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.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Transition, semi-completed!

Well, the first stage and then some is completed.  I am in my new house and am working on making it a home.  I have a long ways to go on that but I am making progress.  I have a couch!  That is not an insignificant thing--for those of you long-time readers of this blog might remember, when I lived in Findlay it took me two years to get a couch.  Apparently my fear/dislike of commitment to at least inanimate objects is fading.

So people have wondered where I have landed.  I am in Minneapolis of all places--far from the little house in the woods to urban, Leave it to Beaver, America. I think that is about 700 mikes and 50 years of progress away from Michigan.   Of course saying Minneapolis is not all that specific so I tell people I live near 50th and France.  Most people know of that location because it is a very hip and trendy neighborhood with "boutiques," not stores.  Of course they all quake when I walk in the door.  Can I help you, sir?  The Walmart is 12 miles thataway...let me get you directions.  We do have a polyester section in the far back in the tremendously out of date reduced clearance section--would you like to start there?  Can you go around and come in the the back door?  Please?

I do snicker a bit when I say that I live in that trendy neighborhood.  I actually live about a 20 minute brisk walk away, all up-hill and against the wind and across about 4 descending economic strata from France Avenue.  It is but a point of reference.    Lest you think that I live in a place with empty crack vials in the stairway, I can assure that I don't think that this is the case.  I can't really say for sure because I live on the sixth floor of a small apartment building and if you think I am going to walk up six flights of stairs you either are crazy or you don't know me very well.

I jest, of course.  I like my neighborhood a very much.  My apartment is less than 500 feet from a coffee shop--how cool is that?  That is a huge improvement from my drive of 65 miles to a Starbucks.  Two more coffee shops are within a mile.  There are antique shops closer than the coffee shop and a store that only sells only honey is just a bit futher..    I never thought I needed a honey store, but damn it, when I think of this I think that it is a fine thing to have close by.  And the aforementioned 50th and France is within walking distance in case I need to see how the other half lives  There are two nearby bakeries with bread that isn't Wonder and a very good grocery store.  The olive bar at this place is not just a selection of cans of medium or large black olives and some of their cheese is not in a can or wrapped in plastic by the slice.  And, of course and thank heavens, there is a a good wine shop.  And it is all within walking distance!  It didn't hurt that I discovered that I am less than three miles from my doctor, a dentist, and the emergency room but all that is another story.

All-in-all, it has been an adventure that has gone pretty well.  I am unpacking as I can and keeping up with the class I am teaching.  I am going to have to seriously consider looking for work soon.  My checkbook balance has shrunk all too quickly so I have to really concentrate on the next few weeks.  Of course, if any of you know of work for an under-employed history teacher, please let me know...

But I am OK.  I made it this far with lots of help and I am looking forward to what might come my way in the next stages of this adventure.  If you are in the neighborhood, let me know.  My house is almost put together and of course, mi casa es tu casa,

The photos are in my neighborhood.  There is a picture of my local farmers' market and my local coffee shop.  Boy, is nice to be able to say those two things.  My neighborhood, other than my apartment building that was built in the early 1970s, is really pretty residential.  The houses really are homes where Wally and the Beav might have lived.  The average price for a home in the Fulton Neighborhood, my "hood," is over $700,000.  Trust me when I say that I live in the low rent part of the neighborhood.  The advantage is that there are a ton of gardens nearby and they provide great flowers to photograph.