Happy Accidents and More

Recently, I was walking through downtown Seattle. It was raining. (Big shock, right?) It was dusk, and the sky was getting more grey by the second. I was with a group of people, and none of them wanted to slow down when we came across this amazing sculpture. I was forced to take this picture on the fly.

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When I got home and looked at it, I was really disappointed by how blurry it was. But then I looked at it more closely. I decided that it looked like an impressionist painting. Now, the more I look at it, the better I like it.

I had a similar experience back in 2005. I was driving through Colorado, and came upon a gorgeous sunset. The problem was, I was on a highway with many cars behind me, so I couldn’t stop to take the picture. This is what happens when you snap a picture out the window of a moving car, all while trying not to get yourself killed.

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When I showed these to my friend Jennifer Dropkin, she shared one of her own photos. She was taking a picture of a row of books, and her finger slipped. I think this is lovely!

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Bob Ross would have called these photos “Happy Accidents,” and I tend to agree.

My friend Linda Cooke then showed me this photo, which she did intentionally, but says it was a lot harder to do than she thought it would be.

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This, in turn, made me remember another photo I took, again, purely by accident. I was on the bow of a boat, trying to take a photo of Seattle’s city skyline. I like how it turned out, even if it wasn’t what I was going for.

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I have another friend, Martin Hunt, who intentionally manipulates his photos, and they come out amazing. Here are just a few of them, which I’ve shared with his permission:

Check out more of his photography here.

I guess the lesson here is this: Whether or not the things you create turn out as you originally planned, or whether you decide to make even more of them than anyone else would originally have seen, there’s a lot of potential for creativity and beauty in this world.

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N-N-1 October 31, 2017

This was a fun post to write, because it took a village. In an atmosphere of increasing divisiveness, people from all walks of life, from all over the world, got together to do one thing: Take a photograph at 6 pm (their time zone) on the 31st of October. If you’re mathematically inclined, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (because those numbers should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. These photos were sent to me, along with 50-100 words about them, so that we could share them all with you.

What I love most about this project is that we are all seeing different things at the same point in time. The world is so varied and nuanced, as are our lives, and yet we are all part of the human race. Thirteen responses from four different continents and six different countries, all working together. I feel very proud of us right now.

So without further ado, here are the photos we came up with:

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This first one comes from me, Barb Abelhauser. I took this on the Fremont Bridge in Seattle, Washington, USA. This was not the photograph I had expected to take. It was my day off, technically, so I should have been relaxing. But I got called in to work. This is the most hectic drawbridge in our system, but it makes for some interesting photos. In the foreground is the bell we used to use to signal the boats back when technology was slightly less technical. It almost looks like a space ship is descending. I think most Seattleites would agree that if a spaceship were to descend anywhere, it would be in the Fremont neighborhood.

I hope you’ll continue to visit my blog, www.theviewfromadrawbridge.wordpress.com.

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This one was taken by Cris LeCompte, during his visit to Fargo, North Dakota, USA. He said it was taken “twelve minutes before sunset and 32° F. Located at the end of the street of 1950’s houses is the Congregational Church reflecting the designs from the 1970’s. The next hour found trick or treaters knocking on the doors.”

Cris is actually the realtor who helped me buy my house in the Seattle, Washington area. If you live around here and need a realtor, I highly recommend him! www.RealtorCris.com

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This photo is by Elaine Lorefield who hails from Kentucky, USA. She writes, “This is an old window from my house. I did the beveled glass work about 30 or so years ago. I had all the windows replaced a few years ago and this one has been sitting outside my back door ever since, slowly deteriorating. Time passes. Nothing endures forever, but the process of deterioration can be unexpectedly beautiful. It still makes rainbows when the light is just right even as it disintegrates.”

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My friend Martin Hunt sent this picture from Canada.

“This where I live. Cyberspace and my mind. The physical location is nice little apartment in Vancouver. The actual location is spread all over the planet. My love lives in Skype and Second Life. Second Life has been a place where I’ve learned a lot. I’m an old guy now and I’ve had a pretty active and adventurous life. I like where I am now as much as any place I have ever been. ”

To see more of his cool photos, along with his philosophical essays, visit his website at www.simulat.ca.

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Halloween October 31 2017 Bangkok

This, from Anju Lavina, in Bangkok:

“Thailand loves Halloween. They don’t really need an excuse to dress up, but if you’re going to give them one, they’re going to take it to the next level. Unfortunately, Thailand has been on a year-long mourning period for the death of the late King Bhumibol who was loved beyond measure. For a whole year, we have had to wear black in memoriam. Halloween has been cancelled, but the spirit of trick or treat remained. This is a photo of mannequins showing off the latest in mourning fashion, while also managing to look somewhat spooky!”

Visit Anju’s blog here: https://thislabyrinthiroam.blog/

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Mr Politician

Norm Houseman, the originator of the N-N-1 concept, had this to say:

Mr. Politician

Why Mr. Politician? Well, it began when our twenty-one-year-old granddaughter, Macey, was three or four years old. She was visiting us around Halloween one night. Our doorbell rang and I went to see who was calling on us on that dark night. It wasn’t the night for Trick or Treating, and we weren’t expecting anyone. I opened the door and found a local politician who was out soliciting our vote in the upcoming election. I assured her that we would cast our vote for her and she left.

Later, when Macey was leaving, I said to her, “Be careful, there are politicians out tonight.”

Macey looked up at the new Halloween windsock hanging on our front porch. She asked, “Is he a politician?”

I looked at it and said, “Yeah, he’s a politician.”

For the next year or so she equated politicians with things spooky. Cindy once found her looking under a bed with a flashlight. When Cindy asked her what she was looking for, Macey whispered, “Politicians.”

Ever since then, Mr. Politician has been an honored Halloween decoration at our home.

Norm is in Lafayette, Indiana, USA. Check out his blog here: https://classicalgasbag.wordpress.com/

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This picture comes all the way from Australia. Karen writes:

My TIME wall in progress!!

Once completed it will represent countries I have lived in and countries that are special to me.

Writing this has made me think about TIME!!

All the cliches come to mind, here are a few:

The TIME of your life

TIME marches on

TIME will tell

TIME can be a great healer

TIME flies (when you are having fun)

The sands of TIME

TIME is money

BUT

Money cannot buy TIME!!

Karen Swanepoel

Gold Coast, Australia

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This scary picture comes from FigBash Snook, who was attending the 10th Annual Bristol Zombie Walk, in the UK.

“Once a year, the undead converge in Bristol. Over 600 zombies shambled their way from College Green to Temple Meads. I had no idea there were that many of us; perhaps the apocalypse is closer than I thought!”

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I have to say that this photo makes me very nostalgic. Taken by my friend Juan Carlos Garcia Romero, in Guanajuato, Mexico, it reminds me of the time when I lived there at age 19 and attended this amazing festival.

Here’s what he wrote, which I’ll humbly attempt to translate, below: “La parte representativa de la realidad virtual es a través de las imágenes mediante ellas mostramos una historia en base al contexto que existe detrás de una sola imagen como es está fotografía.  Muestra de ello, es la lechuguilla o gorguera  que formo parte de la moda de los usos y costumbres de la sociedad del siglo XV en Europa y fue el antecedente directo para la elaboración y  transformación del cuello de las camisas y blusas como prendas de vestir. Sin embargo, poetas, dramaturgos y novelistas hicieron uso de ello.  Hoy en día, la imagen de la lechuguilla se mostró solo como un adorno decorativo y cultural del XLV Festival Internacional Cervantino  (FIC) en diferentes plazas y edificios de la ciudad colgaron esa imagen. Mientras que alrededor se desarrollaron eventos de música, danza, teatro, poesía, ballet, cine, etcétera.  Un panorama difícil de analizar pero fácil de percibir es aquel que vivimos a diario las personas que vivimos en la ciudad, en donde solamente una pequeña parte de los turistas son los que en realidad asisten con una finalidad cultural.  La otra parte, solamente viene a tomar en las calles de la ciudad. Para ellos, el festival es venir a ensuciar la ciudad, o ponerse hasta atrás.”

My translation (apologies in advance): The representative part of virtual reality is through images. Through them we tell a story based on the context that exists behind a single image, such as this photograph. For example, the lechuguilla or gorguera (collar) that formed part of the fashion of 15th century society in Europe and was the direct antecedent for shirt collars of today. However, poets, dramatists and novelists made use of it. Today, the image of the lechuguilla was used as the logo for the XLV International Cervantino Festival. It appeared in different squares and buildings of the city. The festival included music, dance, theater, poetry, ballet, cinema, etc. Those of us who live in the city where only a small portion of the people who actually attend the cultural events. Each year the town swells with tourists, who only come to check out the city, leave it dirtier than it was, and then leave it behind.

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This picture was submitted by Natalie Garvois, from West Lumbago, Nebraska. She included a poem.

Some houses need to be avoided.

Each year Samuel, Corrine’s father,

And yes, he is still alive,

Tries to lure young Trick-Or-Treaters

To his door.

 

There he does his best

To scare the puddin’

Out of sugar hungry youngsters

By dressing like a ghoul

And waving a butcher’s knife.

 

Many children leave his door

Crying and screaming.

Sometimes they leave

A trail of urine in their wake.

What a guy.

Check out Natalie’s blog here: https://wildriversrunsouth.wordpress.com/

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The picture that gets the award for being taken at the highest altitude definitely comes from Ellis Johnson, who had this to say:

“This photo was taken on a flight from New Orleans into Dallas while we were making our approach at 6pm local time.  My trip to New Orleans was with my childhood best friends as a last hurrah and at this point all I wanted to do was be at home snuggling with my wife. When I took this, we weren’t sure if we were going to make our connection to the flight to Seattle so I was geared up and ready to make a run to the next gate but had to take a moment to appreciate this beautiful sunset and view.”

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Amy Pic

Amy Sassenberg (who also did the photography for my first book) told the story behind this picture:

“I was supposed to be at a Harvest Festival with my family who were dressing up as the cast of Wizard of Oz, but the flying monkeys threw a wrench into the mix and I was left alone, putting the finishing touches on my makeup and costume as the good witch.”

She was in Huntington Beach, California at the time. Check out more of her writing and photography at Behindtheblues.com.

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And finally, we have this delightful contribution from Princess Butter in California:

“I could have been a hero. I could have been soup, pie, or even a gluten-free spaghetti. But I am here. Being a villain. I am hanging here, bidding my time. I have been sitting out since four days, looking at these people walking by, and this odd girl clicking my pictures. You have subjected me to such gloat and abuse. I am just waiting. Tomorrow, when you pick me up, we will see who has the last laugh. Forget the orange flesh, say hello to the blue-green mossy ball of squish. Bwahahahahaha!”

Check out Princess Butter’s blog at www.asplashofmylife.wordpress.com.

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I decided to add one last submission, from my friend Steve in Jacksonville, Florida, simply because this made me cry. He writes, “This is my 1800 picture. It’s Michaels car. I was wishing he was in it.”

He’s been going through a lot recently.

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Many thanks to all who participated! And thank you for allowing me to be the host this time around. I’m looking forward to the next N-N-1!

Become an N! (Trust me. You’ll Want To.)

I must confess that I’m terrible at reading other people’s blogs. I tend to be too overwhelmed by writing my own every day. So every once in a while, I’ll go on a guilty binge read.

A few months ago I was doing just that, with one of my favorite blogs, This Labyrinth I Roam, written by my friend Anju. I love her perspective on life. I also love that her world has been completely different than my own. Even though her labyrinth has only intersected with mine in cyberspace, we have a connection. I hope we get to meet face to face someday.

After reading, oh, a couple years’ worth of her blog entries, several jumped out at me. They had to do with a project called N-N-1. She and a blogger friend of hers, Norm, who writes a blog with the delightful name of Classical Gasbag, thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explained recently, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time.

The plan was that they’d pick a moment, and each would snap a picture at that time, and then do a 50-100 word write up about it. It could be prose or poetry. Whatever the photo inspired in each photographer. Then they’d send that to the host, who would compile it into a blog entry. Here’s a link to a recent one hosted by Norm.)

It turns out that this project is incredibly revealing. It shows how diverse our lives can be. It shows different landscapes, different activities, and different perspectives. These blog posts always leave me feeling really great about the world. We got this, people. Because we all have our unique ways of existing, that diversity leads to strength.

So far, so good. But since they really did have participants all over the world, picking the same time became a bit problematic. 6 p.m my time would be 2 a.m. for folks in Europe, for example, so it tended to hinder a lot of people who would otherwise be up for the challenge. Eventually, they decided to regulate it to each individual’s time zone.

So, long story short, I’ve volunteered to host the next one. And I’ve chosen 6 p.m. (your time zone) on October 31st to be the pivotal moment. I figured that would yield some interesting Autumn or Halloween pics from those of us who had those experiences and chose to focus on them, and even more absolutely-nothing-to-do-with Autumn or Halloween pictures from people in other parts of the world. Fascinating.

So, would you like to participate? If so, contact me using the form below, and mark your calendar for October 31 at 6 p.m. Then send me the photo and the write up by no later than 6 p.m. your time on November 7th. I’ll compile them all into an interesting blog post and send you the link. Anyone can participate. You don’t have to have a blog. (But if you do, send me a link to it as well, and I’ll give it a plug in the post. It’s a great way to increase your readership!)

Also, feel free to share this invite with other friends who might want to play, too! The more far flung, the better! This is going to be fun! Join us!

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Photo Closure

Recently, this haunting picture made the rounds of Facebook. And now I can’t get it out of my head.

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I’ve tried to track this photo down through Google image search, and it directs me to what appears to be a Turkish blog, but I don’t actually see the photo there. It also pops up in Pinterest, under Istanbul and everyday life. But I still can’t determine its source. Please know that I don’t take credit for the photo in any way, and do not intend to profit from it. If the owner reveals him or herself and wants me to take it down, I will do so. But I hope that that person will consider this a high form of flattery.

In the meantime, in order to emotionally move on from this amazing photo, I have decided to create a story based upon it. So here it is.

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Zehra put the water on for tea, just as she had done every day since she was old enough to reach the stove top. She was content with her routine. Her beloved husband had passed away years ago, yet she still talked to him. Her children had grown up and moved out and now had children and grandchildren of their own. She had only her faithful cat, Mirnav, to keep her company. Aside from Mirnav’s purrs, the only other sound in the house was the ticking of the clock.

While waiting for her teapot to sing its familiar song, she gazed out the window. It was a cold day, and snow was beginning to fall. Zehra hoped that her arthritic hands would not ache too badly. Perhaps she should start a fire in the oven. There would be plenty of time for that. Nothing but time.

The snow was not slowing down her neighbors, who were rushing off to work and school. Some of them waved hello as they passed by. If they had not seen Zehra there, gazing out the window as she did every day at this time, they would have become concerned. She was a fixture in their neighborhood.

Her life was not an exciting one, and she liked it that way. In all her years she had watched as her city grew and changed, had seen wars come and go, and watched as modernity usurped tradition. She had loved and lost and laughed and prayed. She had her cozy little house. Her family sometimes stopped by to visit. And of course, she had Mirnav, her loyal companion.

“As lives, go,” she thought, “mine has not been bad.”

And then the teapot began to whistle, abruptly shattering her reverie.

Even though the cat had already taken this as a signal, Zehra felt obliged to say, “Come along, Mirnav. Time to eat.”

No sense in breaking with ritual at this late date.

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A Thousand Points of Feminism

In a country in which women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, in a culture where only 61 percent of absentee fathers actually pay child support, it stuns me how quiet the women’s movement has become. Feminism seems to be an epithet, a label to be avoided.

Even worse are those people who think all the battles for women’s rights have already been fought. They’re probably the same ones who think racism no longer exists. They’re definitely the same ones who take for granted the progress that has, in fact, been made, and was, in fact, hard-won.

As a woman who has worked non-traditional jobs most of her life, I can tell you that there are plenty of battles still to be fought, just as there were many past battles that no one even thinks about. Here are two from my own family of unsung heroes:

-In the 1960’s, mastectomies were a lot more radical than they are now. They were so invasive that the level of disfigurement made breast reconstruction surgery a challenge to say the least. The first silicone breast implants came out in 1962, but they were very unreliable. My mother had her mastectomy during that period, and reconstruction was not possible in her case. Her insurance covered pads to pin inside her bra, but they were unnatural  lumps of cloth that looked like modified shoulder pads on a good day.

There were pads out there that were shaped more naturally, even including pseudo-nipples, but her insurance would not cover those. She argued with them for ages, stating that a woman’s self-esteem and dignity was worth more than the savings any corporation might get by denying her that right. No one questioned the need for a realistic prosthetic after any other type of amputation, after all. Eventually she won. Every woman in the state of Connecticut who relied on those pads to feel more “normal” has her to thank.

-Back in the early ‘70’s, my oldest sister, a senior in high school, wanted to take a photography class. She was told she couldn’t because boys and girls couldn’t be trusted to be in a dark room together. She raised holy hell, and eventually they gave in. Every female photography student in that school district stands on her shoulders without even knowing it.

There is still much for women to be outraged about, and even more for us to do. Every time you speak up and act up, it has an impact. Every little triumph makes the next one easier to achieve. Never give up.

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Thanks, Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst. Every time I vote I think of you.

Our Compact World

I was looking at my new camera case just now. It practically fits in the palm of my hand. When I think of the 7 pound photographic albatross with its 6 inch telephoto lens that I used to lug around on every vacation, I get a sympathy neck ache. When I think of the hundreds of dollars I’d spend developing photos, most of which were not worth saving, I get a wallet ache. When I look at the boxes and boxes of albums I still lug around, I sigh. Someday I’ll scan them. I swear I will.

While packing for this recent move I came across all sorts of remnants of our super-sized world. Record albums. (And I don’t even own a record player anymore.) A rotary phone. Big glasses. DVDs and their players. My first cell phone, which was the size of your average brick. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be following this trend toward the miniscule is my waistline. People who excavate our nation’s landfills will think we descended from giants.

Everything is smaller now, and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon. With our rampant overpopulation and our seemingly endless desire to produce more garbage, we need all the space we can get.

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[Image credit: webdesignerdepot.com]

It’s a Small World After All

It is a beautiful world that we live in, and much of it we can’t even see. Recently I did a blog entry on tardigrades and attached a fascinating microscope image of one. There is splendor of that kind all around us. If I could choose any superpower, it would be the ability to see things on a microscopic scale. If I could do that, my life would be full of wonder and awe.

What follows are some amazing microphotographs, with links to the sites where I found them. Enjoy!

  • Here are some amazing mushrooms by Steve Axford. To see more, and I highly recommend that you do, go here.

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  • You’d be amazed at how complex insect eggs can be. These come from the National Geographic website. See more here.

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  • This water droplet image was the photo of the day on the TurtleHurtle website. It’s by Hubetek. Check out the site here.

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  • And my cup runneth over on this Pinterest page that focuses on microphotography. Go here to find out what these amazing images are.

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