Thursday, October 13, 2016

On the cusp of color

It is fall, of that there is no doubt.  I woke up to a temperature of 35 degrees, a temp that I felt even more because my bedroom windows were wide-open.  Thank heavens for a great down comforter, but let's agree that I stepped lively once I jumped out of my warm shower!

Fall colors, the reds, oranges, and yellows that indicate the season have been reluctant to show themselves in my neighborhood and I am not sure why.  It is kind of funny as everyone has a reason why they have been delayed--I have heard that it has been too warm, too cold, too wet, and too dry.  I think that it just different in an urban setting.  At my little house in the woods in Michigan, most of my neighbors were trees as they literally blocked the sun and surrounded me.  Here, trees are accents and lawn decorations, and the houses shield them from the elements.  I am sure that this has delayed the color.  And, of course, it has been too wet and dry and cold and hot.

But here are a few photos that show that fall might actually show its colorful face.  The maples are trending towards yellow with a bit of red, and plain trees as well as the ashes and walnut trees are bright yellow.  The oaks, the stubborn oaks, are still green and only reluctantly turning brown--oak leaves,  of course,  are the last to leave (ha ha) their branches.  People are raking but only those who start shoveling at the beginning of a blizzard--the "fall" is really yet to come.

As always, click on the photos to see them more larger and bigger!

Thursday, September 15, 2016


After you put up with the rain, you do sometimes get rainbows...  Even if there are dark skies.

Monday, September 12, 2016

New old cameras

Since it isn't like I have work to distract me from anything, I have been goofing around with cameras.  The square photos were taken with a Seagull 4b camera from China that I think was made in the early 1960s.  It is hard to tell the age of a cameras from China because those made for the domestic market were sometimes a little dated in their technology.  It works, and is has decent if not not great lens. 

The other photos are from a Leica M2, a recent auction find.  That was fun.  Usually you find folding Kodaks, not Leicas, so I kind of jumped on it when it came along.  Alas, I will have to sell it, but I actually bought it for that purpose--I might even make a few dollars.

None of these are great photos nor are they of anything at all, points I will stress.  Sometimes, though, you just have to put yourself through the motions of taking photos in the hope that something will break free.  I have figured out that you will never take or make a good photo if you aren't out there with a camera.  And I do believe that taking photos is like fishing:  Even a bad day taking photos is sometimes better than almost any other thing.  Be patient.  I will get better, someday.

Friday, September 2, 2016


It is finally Friday.  It seems like it was a long week, but I have little to complain about.  My schedule is a settling into a routine.  I get up and head to the coffee shop to "work" for a few hours, usually until noon or until I have had so much coffee that I can't type any more.  Trust me, it has happened.    Then I make sure I can feed myself for the rest of the day and do stuff at home.  Rinse and repeat for the next day.

I am not really working but working at things so I might or can work.  A good on-line application, with all the redundant spots to fill in and boxes to check,  can take two or three hours to complete and much longer if my cover letter needs to be radically adjusted.  Of course all that work comes after actually finding the job to apply to and after doing some basic research.  Yeah, I know.  It is tough being me.  Hardly.  It is all just part of the process, a process that I hope will be productive soon, as I am getting a teensy bit bored.

I have a short walk to coffee nirvana, but I try and go a different way each day. (I was going to say I try and walk a different way each day, but isn't that a Monty Python joke?)  I found these photos on my walk today.  I am not sold on the vines/wall photo but the location.scene has potential.  Wrong camera and wrong lens, I think, but interesting.  Sometimes it feels like I am scouting for locations for senior pictures--I will have to train the ivy into a number 17 for this year's crop of seniors.

I did find a place nearby that processes film in-house and quickly, a surprisingly difficult thing to find.  After moving from the woods where you had travel 45 miles to even try and buy a roll of film, much less get it processed, I thought that the big city would be filled with photo resources.  Not so much beyond a pretty good camera store.  Processing seemed elusive unless you send it to the coast, so I was pretty glad to find this place.  I get my first roll back today, so maybe more photos later.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Fair time

I am a fan of fairs.  I like small obscure fairs and great big huge fairs, and I was able to go one of the biggest of fairs yesterday, the Minnesota State Fair.  This fair regularly attracts 175,000 other fans each day, and on big days, more than 215,000 people attend.  No matter how you look at that number you have to acknowledge that it translates into a lot of corn dogs.  Or some thing(s) on a stick, or whatever your fair food fancy might be.

I hit a perfect day to go--usually it is 90 degrees and 100% humidity, but it was in the 70s and sunny, truly a magnificent Minnesota day.  I was hardly the only one there, but it wasn't too crazy, and any lines could easily be avoided--it isn't like there is only one place to buy a corn dog.  Long lines gave me an (another) excuse to skip the Spam Sushi and bacon doughnut sliders. 

And without a doubt, it was the absolute best place ever to people watch.  I told a friend that to fit in at the fair that she would need to make a few changes.  First, everyone needs tattoos.  Several of them, in fact, and piercings are good, too.  To fit in at the fair, you need to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence that you have had several meals of deep fried cheese curds with a Snickers on a stick chaser per day.  Many, many people carry many too many pounds.  Then, you have to wear clothes that are way too small to show the pounds and the tattoos.  There.  The recipe for fitting in at the fair in an easy to swallow bite or 60. Bring a napkin or two.

While fairs are good for adults, they are even better for kids.  Who wouldn't love kids who have had a few pounds of cotton candy, a pop (sorry soda fans, I am now in Minnesota) and who are tired and crabby?  I LOVE kids!!!  I found the teenagers the funniest.  First there are the young women, all wearing clothes that are obviously not mom approved and who were pumping out clouds of pheromones to attract young men.  And it worked!  Billy, from Beltrami County (the hinterlands of Minnesota) who was at the fair to show Frank, his steer whom he had raised from a pup, was caught up in the cloud and simply followed his and her hormones around the fair.  Since she was from Edina and he had a half inch of Frank's poop on his boots, I am not sure that it all worked out, but that is life at the fair.

I had a good time.  I ate just a little bit as I was mindful of fitting in too well at the fair.  I took photos on one of the great days to take photos.  I am dating myself, but it was a Kodachrome day and colors just popped.  Sorry, that was a technical term to indicate that the blues were really really blue and the reds just about glowed.  You can see this from the photos.  I think that they are pretty self-explanatory if you have ever been to a fair, but ask if you have questions.  I even shot a roll of film--I will post a few more once I get those processed.  Remember, click on any of the photos to make them larger.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


We had thunderstorms move through the area tonight and although they were spotty and didn't drench the entire metro area they left the sky, well, they left the sky interesting.  I have noticed the crows circling  and cawing most nights around now and have been waiting for a more interesting sky to silhouette them against.  The view is out my living room window.  The sunset is from my bedroom window.

Two things--first, if I am going to take more photos out of my windows they better clean them and I better remove the screens.  It is a bit sad to take a picture with a half-way decent camera and lens and then have them be a tiny bit soft because I was shooting through a dirty window.  Secondly, I sure hope I have the horizon level!

Walking, again

I have decided that having this lake nearby is kind of fun.  At least with photo opportunities abounding near the water, I am not taking all those darn flower photos!  Th6ese are a few photos from a recent walk around the lake--nothing really great but it sure is a pretty lake.

I still am not feeling all that fulfilled as a photographer but at least I am thinking about it a bit more.  I am starting to think that that feeling comes from being unbalanced overall right now.  No, not that kind of unbalanced, though some may argue.  It is just hard finding that balance with the work/art/life spheres when one sphere is missing.  I am trying and I have applications out to all relevant local higher ed jobs, but to be honest there just aren't that many of them right now.  While I miss the paycheck, I also miss the social parts of a job as well.  Yesterday, for example, I had a very nice conversation with two charming adorable young ladies who live in my building.  It was a highlight of my day, even though the conversation was mostly about red monkeys and unicorns and talks on a make-believe phone with no big words.  Then they had to go take their afternoon nap and have their diapers changed.  As fun as they were, I probably do need to get out a bit more.  I will have to think about how to accomplish that.

Until I figure it out, I will just enjoy the lake.  Remember to click on these to make them larger.

NOTE:  I am always amazed about some of the responses I get from these posts in part because I am surprised that random people actually do read and look at these posts.  Within 5 minutes of the original post, an anonymous troll I mean commentator noted that my horizons weren't level.  Yep.  It has been a lifelong flaw of mine that I hold my camera tilted just a bit.  Frankly, I am sometimes surprised that the photo is in focus and exposed correctly.  It the photo sneaks over that bar, I sometimes forget to straighten the photo so the water doesn't drain off the page.  My apologies to the horizon sensitive folk who are offended--I will try and do better.

Monday, August 8, 2016

I got nothing, or noth'n if you are from MN...

I had a great lunch with friends in Stillwater today, and of course I got lost on the way.  I blame the endless construction--no GPS can keep up with all the lane and exit closures.  So I wandered around Washington County on a beautiful summer day.  I am not sure which one I like best or how strongly I feel about either one, but here they are.  At the least, they are proof of a day when it was just good to be lost and looking.  Let's hope it happens again soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Morning storm

It has been hot here in the land of 9,000 and some lakes.  There used to be more than 10,000 lakes but let me remind you that  it has been REALLY hot and those lakes left for North Dakota or some place like that.  Of course among the pluses of steamy humid days are the resulting thunderstorms, although some have suffered with severe storms and then they are less fun.  With that apology, here in the city they can be fun.  The lofty perch of my eerie/apartment affords me a great view of the storms that thunder down I-94  from the West.  My bedrooms offer almost a panoramic view of these fronts, complete with lightning.  I am enjoying this now--we will see if I enjoy it in January when those storms bang against my 60-year-old windows with -40 degree winds.

This morning brought one of these summer storms.  At 7:45 AM, long after dawn, cars were crawling along in the almost dark of a good-sized storm.  The photo above would have been sharper but it was shot through a window.  It isn't like I would go outside in the rain to take picture just to make a photo better.  Get real.  I like to think that the photo is "impressionistic" which is of course a code word for a fuzzy. blurry photo that happens to have good color.  So this is my "impression" of a morning storm.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Someone asked me the other day about how I was doing, and I had to think about it for a few minutes.  I settled on the following--I am living the dream, with better coffee and a whole lot less money.  I do think that sums it up.  It is a great opportunity to live in a vibrant metro area, and I so enjoy that.  My apartment, with its recent additions of FOUR book cases, is starting to feel like a home  And,  I can mostly find my way to a grocery store, a gas station, a place to get Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese/Mexican/Italian food, and I I have reached the exalted status where the local baristas know that I want a large light roast with room for cream.  And a pastry of some sort.  Have I arrived or what?

It isn't to say that it has been a seamless transition, but I think that I have had worse.  Now it is just that pesky task of finding work.  I have applied to a few places, but that is a priority task for me this week.  The question I have been struggling with is whether to just find some type of a job (without a hairnet, of course) to bring some money in and to give a bit more structure to my daily life.  I still would like to teach, but with enrollments down all over the state there aren't too many extra classes floating around but I am still in the process of looking for those last minute openings.  And there is that big question--do I stay in higher ed?  Do I write a resume with a college degree on it, vaguely state that I did some administrative work for colleges and apply everywhere?  I honestly don't know about that one.

In the meantime, I am learning more about and enjoying my neighborhood.  There is a great farmers' market with innovative pastries and vegetable thingies, I think, but I am not as sure about thosw  as I am all about the pastries.  I live about 5 blocks away from Lake Harriet, a wonderful place for a three mile walk, and coincidentally right near one of the better Italian deli/restaurants in town, and if they don't have pastries, they do at least have really good bread.  Walking around the lake is real treat.  First of all, nature has blessed the trail by making it flat and then filled it with puppies and all sorts of interesting people.    That there is a band shell at the half-way mark with music or movies six nights a week doesn't hurt the appeal of the walk, even if there aren't any pastries at the band shell.  There is ice cream and wine so I am not adrift in the desert by any means. There are speedo-friendly beaches, so I am sure that I will fit right in, though I would  fear the great white whale rescue team and their incessant efforts to push me back in the water if I did happen to show up.  It's those pastries!

The photos are mostly self-explanatory.  Be sure to click on them to make them bigger.