Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Never Did Get Strawberries

not the mini-farm

The mini-farm is five days mine now. My first weekend there, I discovered that the Mt Vernon co-op stocks Lopez Island ice cream, and makes really good coconut rice pudding and has eleventy varieties of sparkling water. The roads there take you past strawberry farms and the kinds of old barns I love to photograph and a pasture full of mini-donkeys. You can go so many different ways, winging it without getting lost. It's a good reminder, really, when you're trying to figure out floor finishes and light fixtures. Many different ways to go, without getting lost. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Should we pimp their ride?

Driving just like Daddy!

This weekend in Vermont our neighbors brought the boys a little surprise... not the swank Barbie Jeep as seen in the video above, but the beat down monster in the photo below.

We can't decide whether to leave it all pink and fadedly glorious, or paint it flat black with racing stripes... or maybe camo with emergency orange accents.

Whatever we do, we're not taking out the phone - they kept trying to call Papa for Father's Day on it.

June 21 2010 013

Note how quickly Max has taken to being driven around by a cute girl...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Things That Are Good For Good Days, or For Bad

Willie Nelson
Jenny Lewis
The butter lettuce salad at Cafe Presse
Asking for help from the people who you know will always give it to you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boys at the Farm

I don't know when we'll make it to the mini-farm, though I sincerely hope it will be soon. In the meantime, we took the boys to a farm this weekend to meet some baby animals and familiarize them with the whole scene.

Thomas gets a little education.

Max gets a little love.

Max is alright

After the trip to the ER, Max is acting like his normal crazy self... and I think he may be having the most fun ever.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What I Forgot

A day pack, hand-knit socks. On purpose, hiking boots. This weekend, if I can't do it in cowboy boots, I'm not doing it. I didn't bother to pack CDs for the drive in Kate's car, and everyone is bringing food, except me. I do have a sleeping bag, and a bag of dried peaches and a lot of those tiny bags of roasted almonds, and Richard Hugo's autobiography, and a notebook that I started for notes about the mini-farm. Two pairs of pajamas, two pairs of flip-flops, my feather earrings and my favorite shawl. Only three cameras this time, if you don't count my phone. Which reminds me, I forgot a phone charger.

It feels strange to get away right now, on the face of it, more anxiety-producing than relaxing. Jennifer and Kate planned this trip to the Rolling Huts forever ago, and I was in immediately, but have been fretting over it all week. Maybe I need the weekend to pack? Do I even know what I need to do? How will I decide? Decisions have been tough these past few weeks. Yesterday I told Kate that I thought the force with which I made the mini-farm decision had spent all my deciding power and she wrote back "I think you're right! Now you need to recharge your batteries. I'll decide for you. You're coming with us! We will have the most fun ever!"

So that's what I'm going to do. Have the most fun ever.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Band Practice

Packing your CDs to move is almost more procrastination than progress. You can make it take forever, and it does, if half your CDs are in your car, in the glove box, or in the back seat or passenger's side floor in those big black cases, but in my car, they're also under the floor mats, in the side pockets along with a bikini and some sunscreen in a ziploc bag. There are some in the back map pocket, with the atlas Susan and I used on our road trip and a bunch of Polaroids of Bobby from when we drove up to Whidbey and got in a fight (my fault, that one), and there are a bunch in the trunk, with my old rubber riding boots and a roadside assistance kit that Brady and I discovered does not contain jumper cables. You can bring CDs for whatever car trip we're taking together, but I've got CDs.
I don't even remember all the CDs I've got. I realized this when I found two copies of Nada Surf's Lucky (which I still haven't really listened to) and two copies of Sky Blue Sky, which I bought twice because it went missing for 15 minutes one time and I didn't want to wait to hear it again, and an unopened copy of a Gourds CD that I bought at a show, and forgot I had, because I haven't always been the guaranteed designated driver and I was fond of bourbon around the same time I was fond of the Gourds. I don't have an explanation for why I forgot about my unopened copy of that Rolling Stones album that has the song Lady Jane on it. I think I was with Susan at the Farmer's Market one Sunday and made her go to Sonic Boom with me when I got that one, sober as a judge. I was glad to find the Stones, never get sick of them. I've been loving all this stuff about the rerelease of Exile on Main Street, the old videos from the south of France, Keith shirtless, Mick messing around in the recording studio with some kid who belonged to one of their entourage, or with Bianca on some jet somewhere.

When I was meeting people in college, I always wanted to see their CDs first. Nate liked the Sugarcubes and Dawn played AC/DC's Back in Black as loud as it would go before seminar on Monday and Thursday nights, and Diana played me this song by Ten Hands that Susan and I listened to on repeat when I went home for the summer. Susan used to send me packages when I was in college, always with a mix tape, some of them with themes, like songs with Love in the title, or Body Parts, or songs to cure a broken heart.
I still do that when I can, check out people's music collections when I first meet them. A lot of times it's iTunes now, standing in front of someone's computer with them while they scroll through their playlists. That's actually the ideal way to see someone's music, since you can get them to throw a few songs into a folder and burn you a CD that will change your life, a preview of the new world that person will turn out to be. Some stuff you knew, heard before, recognize by sound but not name, others things you couldn't have imagined on your own.
Sometimes at the Lucky Dumpster, Jessica knows exactly what she wants to play. Jenny Lewis, or Go Slowpoke or The Sadies. James and I were at the shop together one day and he played a bunch of Tom's stuff, and that was funny because it made it feel like Tom was visiting, or on the phone or something. Sometimes none of us know exactly what to put on, and Jessica tries to make me do it, or Tom. We both tend to defer. But when I was sorting through CDs tonight I kept thinking about which ones I wanted to take in to play for Jess in the store some Sunday. Avett Brothers, the Aretha Franklin Tribute to Dinah Washington, Let It Bleed.
I'm getting these weird little habits up in Edison, like waking up in the morning and hearing James in the other room, going to the kitchen in my pajamas to say hi and then not going back to my room to change until well after noon. It's just that James is always doing chores. Like the dog walk in the morning, or going to Tweets to get his tea. Things I want to do, so I don't change out of my pajamas, because it would take too long and I don't want to miss anything. Then I've got my sweater on and my red clogs with green pajamas and James and I are back in the shop, and Jess wanders in and laughs at me but likes my shoes and it's time for breakfast so we go back to Tweets again to share eggs benedict and lemon pear tart. When Todd tells me how good the Edison cafe is for breakfast, I find myself wondering if I'll ever spend enough time in Edison to be willing to skip breakfast at Tweet's for one day to try it.
On Saturdays or Sundays, at some point in the day, either Jess or James goes back again to the shop to open it up. James does the stop and talk all the way down the street but it doesn't really matter that much because you can see the door of the shop from anywhere he might linger. All day long, the table behind the counter is in a state of flux, James rearranging it, tidying up, Jessica making tags out of old file folders, me dumping one or more cameras off, all of our mugs of tea being filled and drained and refilled. Lots of tea. In Edison, even I forget to drink coffee.
This last Sunday, it was rainy all afternoon. The shop was open, but quiet, and Jess and I looked through all the new Karie Jane stuff that had come in, and tried on Jessica's new earrings, wings made out of beer cans, long grey leather feathers. I chose two finger puppets for the twins and a necklace that I wore to the Daffodils show at the Longhorn that night and forgot to pay for before I left. All of us drifted between the studio and the shop, the kitchen and the two orange couches upstairs. Jess, James and Tom all practiced for a while, and when people came into the shop, James told them to just let him know if they wanted help and went on playing.

The show they were practicing for was at the Longhorn that night, for Will's birthday. Will had enough beverages to forget which burger was his and accidentally eat the rest of James' but no one really cared. Christina and I sat together and tried not to get distracted by the National Spelling Bee which was on mute on all the TVs in the bar, but it's hard when those moms are so intense. Even on mute, the tension is nearly unbearable. Still, that seemed sort of appropriate, since Jess got so nervous for the show that for a straight hour she looked like someone had just run an ice cube down her spine, and when someone asked Tom if he wanted a drink, his blue eyes went all saucery and he said "NO!" and when someone asked him why, said "Would throw up!" James just wrote a bunch of copies of the set list and I begged him to play the quiet quiet song but when he told me he wanted to keep the stress level down for Tom and Jess, I had to agree that was probably a good idea.

Their set was great though, they sounded so good and dear, and the bar, which usually closes early on Sundays, was packed. After they played, the crowd called for an encore and Tom looked like he was having just about the most fun I've ever seen him have. Klaport was there from Vietnam and he recorded the show on his little digital camera in between the bobbing heads of two guys at the table in front of him. Tofe surprised them by showing up and Brandin popped up at one point during the show to ask if the band would play at his place next weekend, and James said Sure! as though Tofe's birthday party hadn't been planned there for months already. But it felt like that kind of night, where you could ask for what you wanted and get it, which is why the beer pitcher that was passed around with a sign that said "The Hat" got passed around and filled, only to be emptied again to pay for everything else we wanted, fish sandwiches and fried oysters and salads and Jameson on the rocks or Bud Lite or in my case, more ginger ale.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Not Final

The darkroom is not pitch black. After you've been in there for a while, you feel like you are seeing everything and it's almost hard to believe that you can take your photo paper out, change the filter in the enlarger, slide the paper in, press the button for the timer and not have the whole paper go dark in the developer tray as a result of what seems like all that light. 

The last two nights I've been in there at the very end, tonight my last print dried at 9:32, and the darkroom closes at 9:30. After everyone is out of the last tray of chemistry and into the first wash, time set for five minutes in your head, and all your black plastic sleeves of photo paper are shut up tight in boxes or envelopes, they turn on the lights in the darkroom, and it's a surprise what light looks like. 

Plenty of things are still black, but other things are yellow, lots of things in there, it seems, are yellow. Red too. It's a shock, really, when you see them turn the lights on. You can understand how it all seems black, but isn't. 

In the real darkroom, the film closet, I always catch myself closing my eyes. It is pitch black in there. A little closet, with black walls, a black wastebasket, a pair of orange handled scissors tethered to a waist high counter and an ordinary can opener tethered there too. The can openers are for prying the lids off your film canisters, and the only one that really makes it easy, for some reason, is the one in closet three. It's also the only one that isn't tethered to it's counter, so I'm always tempted to steal it. The rooms get warm and a little claustrophobic though, so doing anything to make anyone else at all cranky just doesn't seem like a good idea. Mostly, I leave the good can opener where it is. I've been told that the door to film closet three comes open even when you think you've got it closed, and I have had enough film accidents for one quarter, so I don't use closet three even though it's can opener is the best.

What is it about closing your eyes in the dark that makes prying those little lids off seem so much easier? 

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Black and White I ends this week. I've cleared the calendar every night this week for darkroom time. Last night was sink time, and contact sheets from the last rolls of film we were supposed to take for class. I've been a terrible student this quarter. No, really. Haven't spent nearly the darkroom time prescribed, didn't study for the final and as a result missed some of the easiest questions, and I think I had nearly every film/camera accident combination possible. Failure to load film so that it advances? Check! Film stuck in camera? Check! Warped film due to forceful unloading? Incorrect exposure due to dead battery making light meter deceptively balanced, broken film for god knows what reason, light leaks, film exposed to light before processing, underdeveloped film, etc. 

It's fine. The one thing I can say is that I was always learning. I was certainly learning what I'm not good at, but also learning how much I love the mix-ups and the accidents and I was learning to let go of the heartache of those mistakes, not cling so much to each of those little moments I had captured on film, since they might not be there later. Any image I try to make might desert me. It might emerge before my eyes in the shallow tray of developer and then vanish just as quickly, as the paper goes dark and swallows whatever showed itself to me for a moment. What I tried to keep might be ripped in half or warped or ruined in some other way I haven't even thought of yet. 

The darkroom slowed me down this quarter. In a good way. When I was there, I could only be there. I had to say no to things, stand and wait, try my own patience on for a change. It's always meditative to be in there, gentle slosh of the trays of developer, stop, fix, the running water of the wash, the little sound the enlarger makes as it goes on and off, everything punctuated by the cheery sound of people calling "corner!" as they enter the room. There's always someone nice in there. I have been outrageously gregarious, talking to whoever is in the darkroom or at the sink next to me. No one seems to mind. Last night the darkroom monitor was generous to me, answered more questions than needed, took her time with me. Towards the end of the night, she looked at the contact sheet from my first self-developed Diana shots and said "film probably needed to be developed a bit longer." The shots of my favorite barn fared better, in her estimation. I thought the images looked light on the contact sheet, was lamenting that, but no, she said, they were probably better than the images that looked darker, with a little more development time they'll yield more detail, might be lovely. 

The final project is due next Monday, three images, something you love, whatever drove you to photography. That's the only guidance, other than of course, the best print possible. I love the Diana shots, but it's the barn that has the most potential for technical success, so that will go in the enlarger first,  shots I took last weekend before anyone else was up. 

Kate was in the master suite at the Lucky D, sleeping away her long night of dancing and kitty petting and skort wearing. The light coming in the front window woke me, so I put my cowboy boots and grandpa sweater on over my red union suit and took Mo out Farm to Market road to spend a roll of film on that barn I return to over and over, and never tire of. It was beautiful, a rare moment of clarity in a rainy weekend, and there were no cars in the road so I stood on the lane divider and took a photo looking down to the road to Allen West before I got back in the car to head back to Edison. When I parked next to the store, James opened the little kitchen curtain and grinned at me. He and Champ were doing their morning routine. He makes her breakfast, holds it while she eats, years of love and companionship coming tenderly to an end. James is resigned to losing her some time this summer, and talks about these days as some of their last. He'll drive her the few blocks to the good walk, and chops and mixes her meals by hand for her, holds the messy slop in his palm if he has to, to get her to finish it before she gets the bone that she'll spend the morning on, laid out on the shop floor while James works. They sleep with the light on now so they can see if Champ needs him up in the night, and his devotion to her is so willingly given, without resentment or compromise. Love as a practice, meditative, habitual. James understands tenderness as tending, tea for me, fires for Jessica before she wakes in the morning, all his care for Champ. When Jess and I go into the city we bring him back more loose tea, his favorite kind, and dinner, tending back, tending towards more love, all hot meals and warm beverages and wood stove heat. He looks at Jess and says "I like your style" and back in NYC, Robert comments on the photo of the two of them, saying it could be a portrait for that song "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and he can't imagine how very right he is.

After I parked my car, I came and stood in the kitchen with James and Champ. James made me tea and we talked about the party the night before, and I was so content with the way it all hung together. The happy parts as well as what grieves us, all the people and creatures and places we love or try to. Kate sleeping in the master suite, Jessica in the little room like a nest off the shop, Tom and Emmy in the trailer, guarding the yard. The yard, with its I Love You banner in the window of the door, the little piece of wood with the word "love" painted on it by Tom's friend Tofe, sitting on the trim on the back wall, the bench James made that curves around the fire pit, the geese decoys, the little piece of wood in the shape of a house that sits on the shelf under the giant roof with it's moss and light leaks and faded old wood. Things falling apart and clinging together, all of us holding on. Things coming into focus and things fading away. Images and projects and music and every single thing a treasure, transient or not.