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Regarding Fathers’ Day. June 16, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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I’ve never been all that comfortable with the concept of Fathers’ Day.  It always seemed like a Hallmark Opportunity which played on a sense of entitlement which we Fathers have, due to the investments we make in our children.

Tonight, listening to a local folk music program on the radio (I wonder how many of you have that luxury,) I saw things differently.

The song which prompted this post was Jonathan Edwards’ “Little Hands,” which I saw him perform live in the 80’s.

And tonight, I cried.

I thought of the journey my daughters’ little hands have made, from meconium-covered straws to capable tools, into which I entrust the future of the world.  From helpless chubby knuckles to the slender implements which will carry on the work of all good people, the work of pursuing justice for those below them on the Have Scale, demanding accountability from those above them on the Have Scale, insisting on some measure of goodness in this world.

My two girls have taught me so much about being a man, about being worthy of their respect, that there’s very little I can say to express my gratitude to them beyond, “Thank you.”

Meredith, Ursula, your beauty and integrity are the greatest gifts a father could ever wish for.

Teach your parents well.

Happy Fathers’ Day, my children.

A Holiday Outing. December 30, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Well, not a traditional  Holiday outing, but an afternoon in the nearby woods, the day after Christmas.

Younger Daughter Ursula came to visit, and she and I went with Lizz and Holly up to a spot I call “Rooftopia,” just over the Vermont line.  It’s a jumble of schistose granitic boulders, just right for black & white photography, which was the general gist of the outing.

These shots are mine, obviously not black & white.

The Gang getting to the rocks:

Holly was keen on getting some B&W shots of the jumble, as well as some portraits of Yours Truly in his natural habitat (no accounting for tastes, they say.)  She came with her Cambo 4X5, a nice piece of work in and of itself:

Box cameras like this one are the film-world’s precursor to modern tilt-shift lenses like Elliot; the front and back elements can be raised or lowered (shift )  to correct perspective, or tilted (um, tilt ) to lay down a plane of sharp focus.  Her results from this venue are very moody and fraught with potential energy.  When she gets them developed to her satisfaction (we’ve only seen proofs) I’ll try to scan a couple and post them here.

I, meanwhile, was shooting digitally, snapping this one of Ursula as she patiently sat as a surrogate for me while Holly set up her complicated unit and I selfishly scampered around the rocks looking for details.

A patient Ursi:

Ursi caught me framing her in my sights, and showed a bit of her dismay at being photographed, as well as her plummeting core temperature.  She hates photos of herself, but I as a proud father love them.  I promised her this wouldn’t come out awful, or if it did, I wouldn’t post it.  I hope I haven’t done her wrong.

My detail shots, on the other hand, were rushed and came out entirely disposable.  Being that I was there at Holly’s request, I didn’t take the time to set up a tripod or apply any graduated filters, opting instead to do a furious circuit of the place and get back to the Cambo when it was ready for me.  Consequently, my shots are a train-wreck of over-exposed snow and impenetrable shadows.  That’s a visual dynamic which takes a lot more time to capture than I gave it, so my half-assed efforts were wasted.

Shoulda just stayed there and sat for the set-up.

More to follow, In Sh’Allah.

Happy Birthday Ursula! :) December 18, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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My once-babygrrrl Ursula turned twenty-three years old today.  Happy Birthday, sweetie!

This event does far more than make me cognizant of my headlong tumble toward fate’s final curtain.  It makes me grateful that I was born, that I survived my insane teen years, that I met her Mom-to-be Gina (The Pagan Sphinx,) and that our love produced two such beautiful human beings as our daughters Meredith and Ursula.

Along side those last happy occurrences, everything else, from spectacular sunrises to the Aurora Borealis, recedes to insignificance.

Thank you, Ursula, for that inestimable gift.

Boston And… Beyond! November 7, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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I had a chance to get to Boston today to visit my younger daughter Ursula, who is in her last year at Boston University.

She’s a sweetie, and I enjoyed her company immensely as we drove around Boston on our way to a nice Indian lunch.  I’m not a “city guy,” but I absolutely love Boston, as does Ursi – it’s a relatively intimate mix of the Very Old and the Very New:

Tree-lined boulevards surround an array of sky-scrapers, making walk-abouts feel cozy, while an abundance of waterways soften and enliven a cityscape punctuated by copper-trimmed tenements and brownstones:

Ursi would be happy to live there after college, and her ongoing gig at the Boston Globe seems like a pretty good foot in the door.

Our lunch was scrumptious and surprisingly affordable for city fare – $16 for the two of us, with take-home to boot!  Ursi was pleased:

It all ended too soon, as Ursi had schoolwork to dive into, and I had designs on photographing the coast before the sun got too far gone.

After dropping her back at her apartment I headed north, more or less.  But there are virtually no straight streets in Boston, and as I should have learned from many other such seat-of-the-pants navigational extravaganzas, “more or less” is a low-percentage move in Beantown, invariably devolving into a tour of curving cowpaths and (I kid you not) one-way cul-de-sacs.

Don’t ask.  Even if I could explain, it wouldn’t help.

Eventually I found my way to Rte. 93 North, then 95 East to Gloucester on the North Shore.  I’d hoped to get there in time to scope out the harbor for photo ops and find some lovely patch of publicly accessible and quintessentially rocky Atlantic coastline, but by the time I finally spied the ocean it was nearly five thirty, when the happy coincidence of low tide and sunset was slated.

I asked a gentleman walking his dogs if there was a legal place to access the shore (it’s largely private, and wandering through the grounds of these old-money mansions is looked upon unkindly.)  To my relief he pointed me to a spot “just around the corner,” two lefts and park on the right.  Simple enough, I thought, thanking him and heading off.

Ten minutes later I hadn’t seen the side-street he’d named, and took a chance on a turn which looked only vaguely promising, and came upon a secluded beach from which the last stalwart souls were just departing.

I jumped out nearly at a roll, doffed my jeans and slipped into a pair of hip waders, then grabbed my camera bags and literally ran down into the briny shallows, mentally calculating swing angles as I plopped Elliot down in the soft mud of low tide.  I muttered something uncivil about the low light as I fought with the finicky focus of the tilt-shift world, then escalated to genuine obscenities as my camera battery went dead.  Fortunately I had a spare in my pack and, casting caution aside, I threw the whole bag down in the draining sand and rummaged frantically through it, scoring and making the switch with speed engendered by desperation.

Then, with the light rapidly fading, I got a few quick shots off, hoping without conviction that the focus would be fair and that my hand-holding of up to three graduated filters at a time would produce the fabled Desired Result.

I was pleasantly surprised with my haul, which isn’t as crisp as it might have been with more time, but it is what it is.

Low Tide under a Black Sky:

I got some sky color reflected in the sand by ditching the polarizer at the last minute.

The wind was picking up and the waves seemed to be intensifying as a patch of clouds burst into Heavenly hues of pink:

Over my shoulder a light show was developing behind a spit of pink granite; I grabbed everything and dashed farther down the beach to catch it:

It was intense but brief, fading in minutes to mere placid loveliness:

Then it was just about light enough to pack up and head home, hoping I’d have something to show for it.

I’m not displeased, considering the rush-job and frantic antics of the evening.

And so ended a great day of friendship and photography, two of my favorite things!

A Happy Birthday Message! December 18, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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…To my younger daughter Ursula, who turns 21 today (!!!!!)

Ursi, my brilliant and beautiful little jewel, it’s difficult for me to imagine being any prouder of you.  Since very early in your life you’ve consistently demonstrated a level of empathy and compassion unequalled by your peers.  Watching a tiny You speaking Truth to Power, demanding justice for classmates unfairly punished, facing consequences because you just wouldn’t “let it go,” filled me with such awe-struck pride…

Did I ever tell you that before?  To some degree I’m sure I felt like I shouldn’t encourage you in directions which would get you in trouble with your teachers, but on a higher level I was just so damned proud that I could have popped my buttons!

And as you’ve grown into an adult, I’ve frequently been misty-eyed at watching you transform this passion for justice into a search for a life-path which will allow you to make the world a better place, be it as an advocate for our fragile environment or for people around the world whose stories need to be told to be understood and valued.

Thank you, my beautiful Daughter, for becoming who you are.  I have no doubt that the world is a better place for having you in it.

Great expectations, best wishes, and all my love,

Your Proud Dad.

P.S.,  Good luck on tomorrow’s exam, and I’ll see you afterward.  😉