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

30 November 2010

The month's final post: Shoes!

Born boots
30 November 2010

This is the third? fourth? year I've done NaBloPoMo, and I've always finished with a photo of shoes. No, I don't remember why. It just became a thing.

Anyway, they are fabulous boots.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. I have a major love/hate thing going with NaBlo. I love that I've finished the November event every time, but there comes a point at which I hate the process. I love that it forces me to think about it every day; I hate that by the last week or so I just don't want to do it. But mostly, I think I love it. Except when I hate it.

29 November 2010

Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower National Monument
13 August 2003

The daughter, who is largely irrepressible, contends she still has nightmares about this place. I'm not surprised. There is something rather creepy about it, though I couldn't quite put my finger on what was disturbing.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. One more day...and you know what gets posted tomorrow.

28 November 2010

The picture of innocence

22 November 2007

"Turkey? What turkey?"

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. Early in the morning, and in this photo, my kitchen is just starting to look like the center of culinary warfare.

27 November 2010

Hungry like the wolf

Page Museum
Los Angeles, California
21 November 2010

Given the enormous numbers of dire wolves found in the tar pits, you could formulate an argument for evolution vs. extinction.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

26 November 2010


Ísafjörður, Iceland
26 July 2008

I was just reading an article about happiness and while I don't agree with some of the conclusions (with regards to myself anyway; your mileage may vary), one thing that I know makes me happy: the experience of travel and the things I choose to do. When this photo was taken, I'd just staggered out of a kayak into icy wind and stinky dead fish. It was a horrendous trip, so badly carried out, in fact, that our money was refunded by outfitter. And I loved every minute. I've written about it at length, and it's an experience that I still think about with joy and laughter, an experience that will always be dear to me.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. The spouse actually took this photo; obviously it wasn't me since I'm standing there with the fish.

25 November 2010

Meet the turkey

26 November 2009

A food stylist I am not, but I do cook a pretty good turkey.

(Yes, I cheated and used last year's photo. Too much going on this year with all the guests ripping the skin off the bird. Crazy people!)

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

24 November 2010

My what big teeth

Sabertoothed cat
Page Museum
Los Angeles, California
21 November 2010

I just love the fact that it's called Smilodon.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, manual settings, ambient light.

23 November 2010

Mincemeat from scratch

23 November 2010

And does it ever smell good.

The recipe is here at Out of the Kitchen.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, manual settings, ambient light. Of course, I couldn't help but be a little amused by the slight resemblance to the tar.

22 November 2010

And up from the ground...

La Brea Tar Pits
Los Angeles, California
21 November 2010

There are several sites outdoors at the Page Museum where you can see the tar bubble up from the ground. It's rather mesmerizing to watch the viscous bubbles form and then pop in a sticky, lazy fashion.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, manual settings, ambient light.

21 November 2010


Page Museum
Los Angeles, California
21 November 2010

The son's AP Bio teacher offered the students extra credit if they made the sojourn to the Page Museum aka the La Brea Tar Pits. Since my mother is visiting and it's possibly the one place in L.A. she hasn't seen in the 25+ years I've lived here, we decided to visit this weekend.

The camera and I had fun.

(So did everyone else, I think.)

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, manual settings, ambient light.

20 November 2010

Lost in fog

Golden Gate Bridge
28 July 2004

I'll confess to astonishment the first time I saw the Golden Gate, probably 25 years ago, and discovered that it was bright orange.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110.

19 November 2010

A mistake

8 November 2010

I'd set the aperture for another shot, and forgotten to reset it before I started clicking again. This is the result. Definitely an error, but it actually looked a bit cool.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. "Mistake cake" is an old family joke. I was making scones some years ago, and I accidentally doubled the amount of milk the recipe called for. I allowed disappointment in for a few moments and then shrugged and poured the resultant batter into a cake pan. The final product: Mistake cake. It wasn't scones, but the kids loved it anyway, and it definitely didn't taste bad.

18 November 2010

What a dense fog advisory looks like

Early morning
18 November 2010

When I took the son to the bus stop this morning, visibility was less than 20 ft. Even the traffic signal was near invisible until I was almost on top of it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

17 November 2010

Something to say

Bergen, Norway
21 July 2008

We were hiking in the hills surrounding Bergen, and we happened upon a few sheep having lunch. Most of them scampered off up the surrounding hillocks, but this one had a great deal to say to us before it ambled off, satisfied it had given us a piece of its mind.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

16 November 2010

I know it has a name

Outside Glacier National Park
12 July 2010

I know it has a name and I know I could find it and I know that I could ante up a better location, but right now I'm just too tired.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

15 November 2010


Gdansk, Poland
4 July 2008

You can tell children about history, but you can't translate history. Traveling through Gdansk, I felt a sort of awe remembering the Solidarity movement, a bit of a chill at how huge it seemed to those of us Cold War kids who were paying attention to those sorts of things. To my children, it was an interesting footnote in a larger history, and the city was a nice place, pretty, with some cool buildings, crystal I'd only let them look at through shop windows, and a pleasant stop at an outdoor cafe.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. I don't blame the kids; for them the history I lived doesn't have the same meaning as what they will live. I know I've bobbed my head to someone else's story with same sort of understanding incomprehension. And no, unfortunately, I don't remember what exactly this building was.

14 November 2010

Half-ish moon

14 November 2010

See? I warned you up front.

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

13 November 2010

Get off my lawn, the bird version

Black headed gulls
Lake Myvatn, Iceland
25 July 2008

They objected strenuously to our presence...and they didn't care who knew it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

12 November 2010

Suspicious eyes

11 November 2010

He was certain that the telephoto lens was out to steal his soul.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, telephoto, ambient light. It's possible I've never taken photos of him with the telephoto, but he really didn't like it. Or he was just high (that's a bag of catnip between his paws). Whatever the case, when I finished, he very carefully got up and quietly, cautiously, padded over to sniff at the lens.

11 November 2010

And on the opposite end of the spectrum

Waning moon
1 November 2010

Yeah, I know.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, telephoto, natural light, contrast adjusted post production.

10 November 2010

Waxing moon

9 November 2010

Yup, it's the moon. Again. Happens once a month...

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, telephoto, natural light, contrast adjusted post production.

09 November 2010

Another day, another spider

Green lynx spider
8 November 2010

Now, if I'd really been on my game, I'd have run home to get my camera so I could photograph the very eye-catching contrail I saw in the sky when I went to pick the daughter up from basketball practice. But no. I was running late, so I kept running.

And you get a spider.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, macro setting, natural light. Now, if my father ever gave me a useful piece of advice, it was always have a camera about my person. Not practical, perhaps, but useful.

08 November 2010

All that glitters

Camellia blossom
8 November 2010

I can't deny it; I'm a sucker for the refraction of light. Things that glitter and sparkle. A world in a raindrop.

It rained during the night, so I went out this morning to have a look. Wait 'til you see the spider...

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

07 November 2010

First sunset of ordinary time

7 November 2010

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

06 November 2010

Suburban gardening

Orange County, California
5 November 2010

In Los Angeles County, you sometimes see oil derricks in people's backyards. In Orange County, it's tractors.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. Of course, the best part about the tractors is when you get stuck behind one going down the road. Worse, if they're pulling a load fruit or vegetables.

05 November 2010

The pretence of autumn

Orange County, California
5 November 2010

I dragged out the much-loathed point-and-shoot to take on my walk this morning. I was so pleased to find an exemplar of fake California autumn. We have some lovely plants--liquidambar, birch, this pretty vine--that make it look so much like the Platonic ideal of fall.

It was 92F yesterday.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110.

04 November 2010

Absolute calm in the sea of the midnight sun

Baltic Sea
2 July 2006

Just a pretty sunset, right?

Actually, no. The water was so flat that evening, so calm, so very still that it was utterly eerie. The surface carried a sheen like silk, like oil.

The memory still makes me shiver.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110.

03 November 2010

When in London

London, England
16 July 2008

Everyone had ideas regarding what should be accomplished on this trip. The son wanted to ride the Underground. The daughter wanted to ride a double decker bus. The grandfather insisted everyone needed to see the Tower of London. I wanted to abandon my family and just roam on my own (this is not unusual. I have my own agenda).

We rode the Underground to the Tower of London and then hopped a double decker bus to Trafalgar Square, ostensibly to eat. The grandfather insisted there was some form of recognizable restaurant there. We never did find it but had a perfectly serviceable lunch in a sports bar instead where I found a nice salad (and Guinness on draft). Nothing is certain, insists the son, but that I will be wearing black and eating a salad.

En route to Trafalgar Square, the bus pulled alongside a shop going out of business. At this point, I had to quell a near riot as both children attempted to run down the stairs of the bus and out into the street.

They wanted that Dalek badly.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. Okay, so I couldn't help but notice the scarves. I'm a bit of a sucker for scarves.

02 November 2010

"Where's that guy?"

31 October 2008

A couple of years ago, the son begged and pleaded for a Master Chief costume. Against my better judgment, I let him have one, and he, of course, did not disappoint me and refused to wear it to school.

He did, however, offer to hand out candy Halloween night. It was pretty hilarious. Some kids thought he was a statue. Some were very, very sure he was alive.

This year, as the daughter and I sat and chatted, awaiting trick or treaters, a little boy came running up and said, "Hey! Where's that guy?"

"The Master Chief?" I asked.

"Yeah!" he replied with tremendous enthusiasm.

"Busy saving the universe," I told him as the daughter dropped candy into his bag.

"Cool!" he shouted as he ran off.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

01 November 2010

Flying through the snow / It's bio time once more

Sequoia National Park
5 February 2005

This is the first time I've entered this blog in NaBloPoMo, so it seems like a good time to run the bio again.

I am not a photographer.

I am many things, and I love to take photos, but I don't claim to be a photographer.

In the 1970s, I was given my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic X-15, for my 10th birthday, though the first photos that I took were probably with one of my father's work cameras, a Polaroid perhaps, or one those enormous reflex things that you see in old films with the reflector and a flash bulb. Flash bulbs are one of my earliest childhood memories.

I can still smell them.

For a time, my father was ID photographer for a police department in southeastern Arizona. It wasn't a pretty job, but it was in the course of his work, in a small city building, in a dark room illuminated by red light, that I learned about film processing, contact sheets and how the slosh of cold chemicals over paper made magic.

When I got my first camera, I learned how the viewfinder changed the way I looked at the world. A flower on a cactus was no longer just a flower: it was a potential work of art. Light had names and properties that I'd never imagined. I took my first photography class and made my own magic in the darkroom. Small magic, 11-year-old magic, but magic of my own nonetheless.

By the time I was in junior high, I'd become the yearbook photographer with my little Instamatic, on the merits of my photography class, a small award in a state photo contest, and because I had the patience to set up shots and the guts to carry my camera everywhere. There was no glory in the job; mostly people let me know that I was in the way, but looking through the viewfinder narrowed and focused my vision, allowed me to see beyond the difficulties of a troubled home.

Of course, watching life through the lens eventually got me into trouble. I ended up with a concussion while photographing a football game from the sidelines, trying to get that ultimate action shot, not really realizing that objects in the viewfinder are closer than they appear...

With the exception of that yearbook stint, though, I've never considered photography more than a hobby. Sure, others have looked at me as the go-to person at times because I'm the one who "knows how to take pictures," so off I go to document various things or take and develop vast numbers of visa and passport photos for poor college students, but most of the documenting has been for personal purposes. I've been content to leave the art of photography to others, and to take photos for my own pleasure. And while I also spent a considerable amount of time teaching myself movie-making with an inherited Super 8 camera, I found that the stillness of photography appeals in contradictory fashion to my peripatetic nature. I stop motion, preserve a memory, hold a split second, as I run from moment to moment.

It was only two years ago that I finally got fed up with the point and shoots--the digital equivalents of my ancient Instamatic--I'd been given over the years, and quite literally shaking, spent a large amount of money on a real camera for myself. It changed the way I look at the world.

I got a Nikon camera; I love to take a photograph. I can't even think how long it's been since I've used Kodachrome, but my life is awash in color. And black and white. At the touch of a button, I can make my cat live in sepia.

I don't always take great photographs. In fact, I rarely do. I'm not a photographer. I didn't buy myself the most expensive DSLR, but decided that I needed to earn the better cameras. So, I'm always looking for ways to improve, for ways to see. Ways to expand. Ways to tell a story in photos and words.

Come look at the world with me.

Tech stuff: The photo at the top of the post was taken with a Canon PowerShot S110. I include information about the equipment I used for each photo not because I have such fabulous equipment, but as a means for me to remember what I did. Other important stuff: The blog title was inspired by the song "Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands" by Snow Patrol. I took the blog background photograph, detail from a boulder in Nuuk, Greenland, in July 2008, with my Nikon D40.