A Closer Look

I went for a walk with my camera around my Aunt’s Wynnewood, Pennsylvania neighborhood. For every shot, I got in really close. Right up on–or down into–each bloom.

I knelt in mulch and squatted over beds. Whatever it took to get the shot.

I hoped the homeowners wouldn’t notice. I know I’d be upset if I looked into my yard and saw a stranger squatting in my flower beds.

As I shot, I saw strokes of color that merged to make up the whole. Blue shadows on the petals of white flowers that made them look even more white. Swirls of texture in the background. I wondered: Is this what Monet, O’Keeffe and Van Gogh saw? Is this why they were able to paint the things they did the way they did?

When I was in college, I spent too much time at parties, way too much time worrying about boys—and way, way too much time at parties worrying about boys.

My friends and I had lots of silly jokes. One was about squinting. We used to say that every boy was good looking—it was just a matter of how hard you had to squint to see it.

I don’t remember where we were when we came up with this, but I’m sure it was poorly lit, smelled like stale beer, and the floor was so sticky that you couldn’t lay your purse down. Dive bar or frat house. You know, one of those BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper) places.

Our joke seemed extremely funny after a couple of beers. Giggle and roar and snort beer through your nose funny.

Now that I’m much older—and hopefully much nicer—our joke doesn’t feel like a joke at all. We hit on something big and we didn’t even recognize it. Squinting–looking at something in a way where you to start to see the details of what its made of–is a very good thing.

Note to self: squint more often.

Passover Plagues Masks

What were they thinking when they created this set of ten plagues kids’ masks for Passover? Sure the boils and lice masks pictured here are pretty harmless–but the tenth mask–the killing of the first born mask–was just, as my cousin Sam said, “Not right.”


Were these masks designed for kids by someone with absolutely no idea that a mask of a dead baby is in poor taste? Or were they created by adults with a warped sense of humor for other adults with even more warped senses of humor?

(No, I didn’t photography the baby mask. That’s way too far over the line, even for me. Joking about the mask is one thing but showing it just encourages these people…)



Spring Flowers

Today I saw Johnny Jump Ups and Daffodils down by the ferry dock–about a month earlier than usual.


My Cookware Is the Wrong Color

After years of accumulating brightly colored oven-to-table serving pieces (cobalt tureen, sage bowl, etc.) I realize that I have purchased entirely the wrong cookware. This throws a wrench in my efforts to downsize before moving to Atlanta.

I had planned to simplify–save my oven-to-table cookware and get rid of my china. (At our house, we serve ourselves from the cooking container because I am usually far too lazy to transfer anything into a bowl or platter.) But now I’ve learned that my stone cookware isn’t conducive to photo shoots–and my china is.

My discovery stems from repeated visits to food photographer Meeta Wolf’s blog (www.whatsforlunchhoney.net). Analysis of Ms. Wolf’s approach to composing amazing photographs reveals that the serving container and background of superior food photographs should be neutral to allow the colors of the food to take center stage. Yes, she uses a little red accent along the rim of her soup bowl, a yellow pinstripe up the length of her casually tossed dishtowel, or tosses a handful of herbs and berries on the table in front of her cobler. But only when the color of those accents coordinates with the colors of the food.

Check Meeta’s photos out for yourself. Not a bright colored piece of serving ware in sight.

My photos up to this point have been the opposite. The visual dominance of the cookware overpowers the food. Hmmm.

(See below for what the chicken really looked like before being posed.)

Now I have no idea what to do. Replace both cookware and china with a new set of all-white oven-to-tableware for the sake of glamorous web postings? Or should I keep the China and the stoneware? After all, my beloved red roaster has faithfully turned out crispy, golden roast chickens and very cheesy lasagnas for as long as I can remember.

I prefer not to accumulate more belongings. I believe that ultimately, less is more. But how does a person figure out which less will be the more?

By the way, sometime when you are roasting chicken, try filling the roasting pan and chicken cavity with sliced onions and carrots. Then pour 2/3 cup of Ouzo into the cavity and roast as usual. The Ouzo gives the onions a terrific flavor. And I don’t even like licorice.

Sorry No Chowder

Saturday night was the The Ladies Auxiliary Annual Chowder Cook Off at the American Legion here on Peaks Island. My plan was to sample chowder and snap photos, but I never made it out of the house. Ron and I got too comfortable watching movies and golf and basketball. By the time I remembered the Cook Off it was too late–all the chowder would have been gone.

So all I have to share is this very unexciting photo of my breakfast on Sunday. Not even a caper or sprinkle of chive to add a little visual interest. Very indicative of how uneventful and quiet my life has been lately.

Part of me feels lazy and guilty that I didn’t make it out of my house Saturday evening. But another side of me is very content just to sit here with Ron. Forever maybe. Turns out that empty nesting may lack excitement, but really, it isn’t bad at all.

Hope I feel more ambitious by Monday so I can get my work done.

Buzzing Into Spring

I know. The title is way too cute. I apologize for that.

Anyway, I am beside myself with joy over the early arrival of spring in Maine this year. Last week we had 70-degree weather and my crocuses were in bloom.

When I went outside to rake up the garden, I was distracted by the honey bees in said crocuses. So I put on my 40mm close-up lens and stuck my camera right up to the bee.

Do I know how to procrastinate or what?




Spam Scam?

(Continuing to read Bridget Jones and thus write like her.)

Reviewing comments on blog. One from Sylvia Sanchez about baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with kids after school. Didn’t recognize name, but no Russian characters, offer of cheap Uggs, mention of erectile dysfunction or other telltale indicator of spam, so thought, “How nice.”

Clicked on Sylvia’s Facebook link to figure out who she is. Found profile photo of sexy woman, looking drugged and in heat—much in manner of Victoria’s Secret model. Backdrop behind woman was not kitchen or garden as expected—but Sahara dessert. Says went to Harvard and works for L’Oreal. No photos of kids at playground or soccer games. Definitely does not mesh with image of Mom baking cookies implied in post.

Now suspect scam, though not sure what. If anyone knows, please clue me in. Or if anyone knows Sylvia and she is real person who both bakes and is sex kitten, please tell me so I can apologize.


Free From Grammar At Last

I’m re-reading Bridget Jones’s Diary. Every so often, a girl needs a little entertainment in her life.

What has really spoken to me this time is the diary-style license author Helen Fielding has taken with the way the book is written. Much of the book isn’t quite in full sentences, latitude has been taken with the grammar, and Fielding often uses abbreviations rather than full words.

Example: “Have had v.g. idea about birthday. Am going to ask everyone round for cocktails, perhaps Manhattans. Will then have given to guests something in manner of grand society hostess…”

What strikes me about this—

1. BJD was published 1996—several years before text messaging was widely adopted. And yet here is Helen’s Bridget, leaving out the subject of some sentences, eliminating articles (a, the—I think those are articles?) and using acronyms. At the time, Fielding was probably slammed by the literary police for not using proper grammar or sentence structure—and thus not being a serious writer. But in fact, Fielding was futurist, predicting imminent shortened use of language adapted for not-yet-invented smartphone devices.

2. As people with smartphones now text an average of 27 messages daily, abbreviated writing style becoming not just accepted, but the norm.  Predict will spread to literature. Eventual outcome will be global acceptance as standard writing style, replacing stodgy old adherence to grammar rules. (Text messaging stat taken from Wikipedia—current repository of all worldly knowledge.

3. Is v.g. news for me, who never got better than B grades in grammar. Now feel free to create own literary masterpiece using self-created grammar rules rather than ones dictated by frumpy Mrs. Craighead at Cave Spring Junior High in 1975. Am finally vindicated as turns out was right, no need to pay attention in grammar class. Even if make living as writer. Ha!

Now brainstorming own shorthand novel. With time saved not having to perfect grammar might actually finish first chapter before get bored and move on to something else.


Globetrotter to Spin Basketball on Lobster Claw

Yes, this is what we do for fun in Maine. (see press release below)

When I read this, all I could think was: poor lobster! I wonder what PETA thinks about this.

Unfortunately (possibly luckily) I won’t be there to get a photo.




TIME:        Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.

PLACE:      DiMillo´s on the Water Restaurant & Lounge, 25 Long Wharf, Portland, ME 04101

DETAILS:    Harlem Globetrotter Hammer Harrison will bring his basketball wizardry to Portland’s renowned DiMillo´s restaurant.

Hammer will attempt to spin a basketball on a lobster’s claw, as he teaches Globetrotter magic to the DiMillo´s staff and dinner crowd.

Hammer is in Portland spreading goodwill prior to the Globetrotters game in Portland at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m.

#  #  #

Because He Said Not To

I’m taking a photography class at Maine College of Art with my friend Cynde. Our professor asked us to go home and take lots of photos and then return to class with the digital files on a thumb drive. “But don’t take pictures of your cat,” he said. “I hate pictures of people’s cats.”

Of course, I hadn’t planned to photograph my Maine Coon, Pemaquid. But after being instructed not to, I couldn’t resist.

We’ll see what the teacher says next week in class.