Friday, October 29, 2010

So Close

The lattes at Toby's have changed a bit since this photo was taken, that year when the lattes were rich and caramely one day, and bubbly and bitter the next. Kae, Pam, Greg and I have driven in both mornings, both mornings the large lattes in their nubbly brown sleeves have been the right temperature, velvety foam, and the  flavor - deep coffee coffee coffee. The treats have changed too, the first day we ordered three Love Bites and a Thumbprint. The love bites were little mounds of buttery nuts held together by something just the right amount of sweet. Today it was some kind of apple pastry, SO. MUCH. BUTTER! I love egg breakfasts, but right now, coffee and sleep take precedence so I haven't made it to the cafeteria for eggs once. Maybe tomorrow, after our slumber party in Pam's room, and a late night of Bananagrams?

Both workshop days have involved multiple writing exercise as well as some gentle homework at night, so there is writing being done here. On the airplane, one of the books that Mark Doty had assigned us to read for workshop, Maggie Nelson's Bluets, turned out to be a catalyst for a little piece of writing that flew onto the page so quickly that I literally don't even remember what it's about. I've been too busy with other words, other paragraphs to even go back and see. Later. As I was writing that, I thought I'd just share whatever I was working on in class on the blog. That was before I found out what I was working on. Now all I can say is, I'm not ready. I'm thinking about it, but not quite ready. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I was going to try to get to the darkroom tonight, but I never made it. It took me until 8 to finish up all the work I needed to do before leaving for a 3 (work) day vacation, and even then I ended up sending texts to my email address to remind myself to replenish employee bus passes and ask my volunteer Halloween party helpers to dig through the bags and bags of candy and bouncing eyeballs and candy and spider rings and plastic pumpkins and candy and monster napkins and candy and coloring things and candy to try and find the receipt I'll need to get reimbursed for all that candy. If they don't find it, I want my candy back. 

Some people around these rainy, windy parts are a bit jealous that I'm headed to California, sunshine, universal remedy. Of course, on the coast where I'll be, we're as likely to be fogged in as anything. The other day when I looked at the Tomales Bay webcam, it was like looking at a grey card. See what I did there? Cool photography reference. I'm traveling with the Big Camera for the first time tomorrow, and I feel dorky, excited and apprehensive. When I use it, I feel like people Expect something, and I avoid having anyone Expect anything of my creative endeavors. The nice thing is, it's so funny-looking that people are all distracted by the What-IS-it?! factor. I'm bringing three lenses and a reflector thingy and a couple boxes of film, and I am sacrificing shoes to do so. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Home game

The Bow Little Market was just what I was hoping for. Small, with funny things you don't see everywhere. Little mini-lop rabbits, handmade soakers in bright colors with little organic cotton velour nappies to go underneath, four kinds of blueberry trees, white raspberry bushes, handknit dish cloths, penants with the names of all the neighboring towns out here, a stand making fresh tortillas, a band with an accordion and acoustic guitars and a woman with a feather in her hat spinning the most beautifully colored yarn. She was wearing a long handknit skirt, caramelly patchwork, and a dark tweed one hanging on a hanger on a peg, little lacey edging at the bottom. There were no prices or labels on any of her yarns, except one dusky lace-weight skein, 945 yards of handspun wool, cashmere, mohair, angora. That skein just had a little torn handwritten note, with the yardage and ingredients. When I asked her if she sold her yarn, she said she never had before. I wanted everything, the grassy greens, the orange skeins with a little blue twisted in to brighten it up, sunset colors, dark fall browns that changed color unpredictably. So pretty. The woman who had spun the yarn open her eyes real wide when I told her the price that I thought would be a good deal and talked me down by ten dollars and I left with 945 fine delicate yards of handspun yarn and her contact information, even though I have no right to bring another ounce of wool into this house. 

Kate's visiting, and the Bow Little Market was our field trip with Jessica. All the colors are changing, and Bow Hill Road is a pretty drive from the Lucky Dumpster and back. I could have stopped twenty times for photos but water from the blueberry trees in the back seat was seaping into the floor mats and we needed a coffee from Tweets and there was the store for Jess to tend to and, in theory, Kate and I needed to get to the co-op for dinner supplies, which we have still not procured. Kate got cookies from the Breadfarm and ate them sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a blanket on her lap and Tom and I watched a hawk devour a rodent in the big tree where the ropes from an old tree swing still hang. Dad's cataract surgery went well, so now he can get around without putting glasses on first thing, and my headache eventually went away. Kate fell asleep for a while but now she's waking up and it's time to hit the road for Mt Vernon to get crab and artichoke dip and something to put in the oven that will be warm and filling later. 

Friday, October 22, 2010


So happy I get to go home and see this girl tonight.
And the man who belongs with her.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I didn't tell you much about it before now

At the annual Hugo House auction, a group of us chipped in to buy a yacht tour of the Duwamish River,  with Frances McCue, (one of the Hugo House co-founders and author of a recent book, The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs, about the Northwest towns that are the settings for many of Richard Hugo's poems) as our tour guide. I love Richard Hugo's book about writing, The Triggering Town, and the book Frances' has written is gorgeous, with photos by Mary Randlett, a really wonderful photographer who is one of my new heroes. 

I wish I could tell you all the interesting things Frances told us about the Duwamish, but I don't remember it with enough accuracy to do it justice. It's a Superfund site and so plenty of the history is tragic, as you can imagine, but also fascinating since it's so integral to the history of the city and floating down the river made Frances' stories just that much more evocative and vivid. The best part was when she read part of a Hugo poem. She asked us if she could, as though any of us would have done anything other than beg her to go on. It was a rare sunny day in late September, what could be better than to be read to?

Gena and Jennifer were the perfect company on this trip, both whip-smart women who are always up for an adventure. They also both have that particular kind of wonderfully curious minds that make certain people so much fun to talk to. At dinner afterwards, I kept wishing I could be part of all the conversations happening simultaneously, since Frances, Rose, Jim and Dan are exactly the same way.

Rose is on the Hugo House board with me, and was generous enough to donate the trip on her boat, the Celestine. She and her husband spend a few months a year living on the Celestine, most recently up in the San Juans and Gulf Islands. Speaking of women always up for an adventure... in her former life she was a litigator and she also fits in the category of whip-smart. 
Totally underexposed, taken as we left the boat at sunset, but I love this one of Gena. I feel like I've known her and Jennifer for several lifetimes and I love that too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Impossibilities of light

I love this one of Tom. His look, that little feather. This version of it is from a scan of a medium-format negative, but in the darkroom the other night, I was trying to print on paper from the negative. I guess you can sort-of see the problems with the photo even here, though my print photos didn't turn out as good as this. It was so bright out, and I had his face in shadow and after 4 or 5 versions we decided that this print was best for illustrating why I might want to use fill flash outside on bright days. The right exposure for his face is the wrong exposure for the background and never the twain shall meet. That's what it all boils down to. 

My day job felt a little like that this week. The impossibility of it all had been baked in from the start, or something. I've noticed that I think about all that differently these days, now that I have the mini-farm and mortgage to look after. This is both good and bad, a sense of greater purpose as well as a little fear at the heaviness of it all. Heading into the weekend, the overall feeling is that my own life needs me, and that hour drive home is a good time to shed whatever work energy might be clinging to me when I walk out the door in the evenings. Once I turn on to Cook Road, it's time to be ready to pet the dog, and survey all the little changes that take place over a week on an acre of land, to look out for the bald eagles that have come back to our trees and to pay enough attention to notice and fall even more in love with everything that's there. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

I didn't know how to choose

Photo class this quarter is portraits. I already have so many of Jessica that I could print up, but I'm sure I'll still be after more as the quarter proceeds. This weekend we sat in my car talking, in the parking lot at the school, looking out at the rain, the wet fields where she and James walk Champ, the old barn that's falling down on that side of Edison. As always, she just looked so pretty. She's one of those people who, for me, seems to have a face that is perpetually full of good intent.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

These Ones From Amber

I buy capes but don't always wear them. Still I want to buy more. I covet and cherish vegetables from my friends' gardens. I have a nervous habit that I won't tell you about. I'm trying to take more vitamins, drink more water and avoid MSG. I hate that they show ads for horror movies during Sunday morning football games. I like to bring my lunch to work, and I love rice in soups.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Look Carefully

All I can say about this week is, it is over. It was seriously slugs on slugs around here. Click to make that photo larger, if you dare.