pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: July 2010

30 July 2010

Party in the parking lot

Irvine, California
29 July 2010

The silly daughter grabbed my cell phone while we were picnicking in the parking lot before the Cheap Trick/Aerosmith concert yesterday. Her finger actually takes up a good portion of the original photo but it's better than CL's photo where my mouth is full (probably full of CL's artichoke dip).

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nokia 6251i or whatever it is.

27 July 2010

Sunken garden

Butchart Gardens
Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
6 July 2010

We drove off the ferry from Vancouver and headed straight to Butchart Gardens. It was just after noon when we arrived, so we treated ourselves to Afternoon Tea in The Dining Room. It was lovely and civilized and delicious. Although you wouldn't think it would be an enormous meal, we were all thoroughly stuffed (in fact, everyone was passing off the last of the tiny sandwiches to the son to finish because none of the rest of us could), so a stroll through the Sunken Garden was very much in order. The gardens were very hot and very crowded that day, and the Sunken Garden offered a few cool places to stop for a brief moment to admire the gorgeous weather and the striking contrast in foliage.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

26 July 2010

City on the sea

Cape Farewell, Greenland
31 July 2008

The icebergs floating off the coast looked like a fabulous, mythical city.

(Click to enlarge)

I went back and read all I wrote that summer, and find myself ever more resentful of the limbo that has claimed my life in the last two years.

And ever more determined to do whatever it takes to break out of it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

23 July 2010

...and is gone

Desert highway, Arizona
12 August 2009

The first time I saw a roadside shrine, I was about five. It was late at night, and we were driving home along a winding desert road, and in the flare of the car's headlights, I briefly caught sight of the small white crosses on the side of the road.

They frightened me, badly. Somehow, they were the ultimate manifestation of evil.

When I was 14, my mother came to me, stricken, to tell me that David, one of the young men who worked at the restaurant she did, had died over the weekend in a car accident in the desert. I hadn't known him well, but he was always nice to me, and he'd wave to me from the back of the restaurant when I came in to see my mother, and in the hallways of the high school where he was a senior and I was a freshman.

Roadside crosses seem ubiquitous these days, and David was one of many, many people I've known who've died in car accidents. As the son prepares to start his official driver training, this weighs on me.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

22 July 2010

Everyday people

Vancouver, British Columbia
8 July 2010

I am fond of watching people go about their daily lives. I watch them in cities, in airports, in train stations. Sometimes I pick up random bits of their conversations; sometimes they talk to me. Sometimes I just look, surreptitiously. From my 22nd floor aerie, I was a bit fascinated with this bubble attached to a building across the street, and I observed people coming and going, gathering beneath it, drinking a coffee, having an animated conversation, waiting for a traffic light. Day changed to night and the glass-clad buildings gave off reflections, light that danced on the surrounding buildings. As night gave way to day, the reflections changed with the movement of the sun, and the people went about their business.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

21 July 2010


Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier National Park, Montana
12 July 2010

I don't suppose I've ever mentioned that I don't like heights? It's not that ladders bother me, and I was ever the agile little primate climbing on (and jumping off of) all the apparatus in the school yard. This is pretty specific to mountain roads (and Ferris wheels, too, maybe. I'm not fond of those. Hmm. Roller coasters...). Highway 1 north of San Francisco? I sit through that drive with my eyes closed. It's pretty weird, because I have no difficulty with motion sickness--I am an excellent sailor and I've never been carsick. I read in the car--but roads with sheer drop offs make me feel physically ill. So, yeah, this was probably not my favorite drive (but! I still got out of the car and stood on the edge and took photos even while my vision wavered a bit. Okay, I wasn't too close to the edge...), but mostly I was fine while I was looking up at the mountains and not at the edge of the road.

And no, I didn't volunteer to drive.

Look at the pretty mountains! And the clouds...

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

20 July 2010

Road construction ahead

Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier National Park, Montana
12 July 2010

It wasn't just Glacier. The road was under construction everywhere. It's the curse of traveling in northerly climes during the summer, and one with which we are all too familiar.

At this point, the nice man in the neon vest told us it would be at least 10 minutes before we were piloted down the single lane past where they were building a wall. So, I got out of the car and started taking photos.

What else would I do?

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

19 July 2010

High rise

Harbour Centre (were you in doubt)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
7 July 2010

When we arrived at our second Vancouver hotel, the Delta Vancouver Suites (horrendous to find but the absolute best staff EVER. I've stayed in amazingly posh hotels and have never been so well treated as we were here), we ended up on the 22nd floor with a nice view of the harbor. It didn't take me long to discover that the windows opened, and to subsequently start hanging out of them to take photos (not so dangerous a proposition as hanging off the side of a ship in a gale in the North Sea two years ago: the window only opened about six inches).

It was fun.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

18 July 2010


Yellow-bellied marmot
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
9 July 2010

The window of our motel room in Kamloops faced this gabion and the slope behind it, and early that morning, I watched with some amusement as the marmot ran back and forth between a hole higher on the slope and one nearer the gabion. For a few moments, it would furiously kick dirt everywhere, then stop, look around, maybe eat something from a plant, look around again, and then run to the other hole to resume kicking. After a little, it would get distracted, and for a bit it just sat on the gabion, seemingly unconcerned by the world around it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40 and telephoto lens.

17 July 2010

Frank landslide

Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada
12 July 2010

The Frank Slide occurred in April, 1903, in the coal mining town of Frank, Alberta, killing 70 people.

I've seen plenty of landslides in my time, and some are merely interesting while others make one's hair stand on end. I read about the Frank slide years ago, and the story was both memorable and sad. Standing there shivering last Monday, taking photographs as the rain began to pelt down, I didn't feel the sort of horror that the Madison landslide near Yellowstone inspired, but there is a poignancy and sense of sorrow that hangs over the rocks that washed across this landscape when the mountain fell.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

16 July 2010

No admittance

Butchart Gardens
Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
6 July 2010

I've visited various parts of Canada on several occasions, and am accustomed to the signage in both English and French. The spouse was thrown by the French, but I, of course, delighted in giving the French very literal translations (one of which was the Department of the Defense of Vegetation. It was really "plant health" which doesn't have quite the same ring).

The pictographic signs, however, were sometimes a marvel of confusion. Not this one. Clearly, men were not allowed to enter on the left side and women were not allowed to enter on the right.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

15 July 2010


Butchart Gardens
Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
6 July 2010

I've wanted to visit Butchart Gardens for some years, and the day I got there was perfectly hot and the place was perfectly mobbed. Even so, in a quiet moment, this dragonfly hovered over the lily pads in the Sunken Garden, and settled on a flower, a tiny pool of calm in a busy, busy place.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, manual setting.

05 July 2010

Make me smile

New York City
31 August 1985

I can only say that, yes, this is exactly what it looks like. And if you were to frown and respond that it looks like a couple of trucks, I would merely smile and tell you it's precisely that. Just a serendipitous moment in a serendipitous summer, caught on camera.

Tech stuff: Taken with my second Kodak Instamatic, probably a pocket model, but I can't remember which. And yup, there were a couple of buses there, too. One, as I recall, said "Governor's Staff."

02 July 2010

Stock shot

En route to Denver
30 June 2010

I dislike flying, and I'm out of practice. Even though I was head-poundingly tired on Wednesday morning, every little bump made me jumpy. I still can't quite figure out how I managed to route myself from Albuquerque to Denver then home.

I'm sure I had a reason.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

01 July 2010

The language of my soul

Dress rehearsal
12 March 1980

An ending, though I didn't actually know it then.

Arts organizations never have any money, so when a girl in the company talked to someone who needed to complete a photographic assignment that depicted motion, and was willing to give us prints cheap if we'd allow her to photograph us during our dress rehearsal, we jumped at the chance.

I always knew that I wouldn't have any sort of career in dance: I'm 6'4" en pointe, and everyone joked that only Godzilla would be able to partner me. True enough. But in an era, still, of the Balanchine ideal, I was enormous, and I had, God forbid, formidable breasts and hips.

(I managed to starve myself down to a B cup, but nothing could be done about the hips. Or the height.)

And I can't sing, and I'm more body than legs, so Broadway was out, too.

I did get some extremely positive recognition from the head of the dance department at the local university for my choreographic abilities, but it just wasn't on.

Then, there was the whole brain thing. It's probably because I test off the charts on spatial ability that I was a good choreographer.

At any rate, K.R. and I had danced together for several years, taking modern classes together, and extra ballet classes at the local school. I tutored her in geometry in the mornings so she could stay in the company, though we gossiped more often about boys.

This duet was our farewell. Our lives would move off in different directions. She would marry young, and I headed off to college, promising that not only would I study diplomacy, I'd talk myself into a master class with Bella Lewitsky.

Before that happened, though, I fell down a flight of stairs. The damage to my spine, shoulder and hip was permanent. After a couple of years, I was able to take class again, but there were things my body could simply no longer do. I am grateful, though, that at my present advanced age, I can still manage good plies, and the occasional pirouette, as well as the entire modern warm-up sequence I did daily as a teen.

Tech stuff: The photographer used a manual 35mm, but I've no idea what sort. This is why "Fool's Overture" hit me like a ton of bricks last night. It's not a sad story, but one of endurance. I still rail against every thing taken from me physically, but I know I'll survive it.