Out of the black and into the blue.

T

om Petty said that they waiting is the hardest part. And, so it is. Most of the preparations have been done. I was about to take the trash out when I remembered not to do it. During a hurricane the trash cans get blown around and the trash gets plastered to your house. Or, your neighbors house.

Besides, a trash can launched in a 75 mph wind and becomes an unguided rocket. What goes up always comes down. Maybe through somebody’s roof. It could rip through the roof, blow through the second floor and land on granny sitting in her chair on the first floor.

That would not be good.

In case you are wondering, my humor gets blacker as the big event gets closer. Besides, it’s not yet time to get into my zone. The cold, very clear eyed one that allows me to respond calmly and not in a panicked way. If I started that process now by the time the hurricane arrived I’d fly into the air and try to stop it by myself. It’s a well known fact that I’m not Superman.

Seriously, here’s what I know.

Unless there is a radical change, Hurricane Ida should make landfall upriver from New Orleans, near Baton Rouge, 75 miles away sometime tonight. That may seem like it’s far enough away to not hurt us. That would be wrong. Hurt us it will because we lie within the cone of uncertainty. Landfall can shift anywhere along that cone. Or, the entire cone can move.

Even if it doesn’t, we will get very strong winds, rain and a big storm surge.

Here are the numbers.

Wind gusts. 50-75 mph over the windspeed.

Storm surge. 12 – 15 feet above normal.

Rain. 12 – 15 inches above normal.

The house is armored for storms. That’s how it was built in 1854 when whole parts of town used to get blown away. Once we close the storm shutters we are safe. The biggest fear is loss of power and cellphone service, which also means loss of the internet.

We can deal with loss of power, partially with the hardwired generator and battery system. It only powers the kitchen and not all of that. We also have one of those little in room air conditioners. It’s useless in a big room, but works fine in the kitchen.

That’s all well and good if we have a few power lines down, but Hurricane Katrina knocked down whole power grids. It look weeks for power to be restored. It’ll get awfully old living like a refugee. No disrespect to our Afghan friends.

We cannot do anything about the loss of cellphone and internet service. I recall that after Katrina, we were able to get service after the telco rerouted us through some unaffected region. I don’t know if that’s possible today.

So, this might be it from me for a while.

Have good thought for all of us in Southeastern Louisiana.


Once upon a time.

H

ere it comes. Hurricane Ida blowing through the gulf. She is expected to make landfall in Louisiana around 2pm on Sunday, August 29.

Something just walked up my back as I wrote that. A kind of chilling thing. A kind of dread.

Because.

August 29th is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at Buras, Louisiana.

I had a bad feeling then, and I have a bad feeling now.

According to the NOAA map and cone, at this time it should actually hit about 75 miles north on a line with Baton Rouge. That can change hourly. The barometric pressure is about 1002. By the time IDA arrives the BP will be in the mid to upper 800s.

There will be a very high storm surge since that time of day will host a high tide.

That should not affect us. That’s because we bought this house in a place that has never flooded in NOLA history. It’s located on very high ground; 6 feet above sea level he wrote with a large dose of snark.

We are getting ready, but we are always mostly ready. The last thing we’ll do on Sunday is close the storm shutters.

We aren’t evacuating because of CoVid-19. What good will it do to leave a place that might get damaged to end up on a place that could kill me?

I’ll post again on Sunday. It’ll be short and mostly discuss current storm conditions.

B

elieve it or not, this is a Hurricane Katrina picture. I made it the next summer after the storm.

I came back to sell our New Orleans house which has been flooded by four inches of water that came through a door in the service area.

floor If the people who did the add-on would have built it to the rest of the house’s height, our home would have stayed dry.

But, they didn’t.

I wanted to have a look around. I made my way to The Lower 9th Ward, a place that was flooded by 14 feet of water and is sacred ground because so many people died there.

I was looking for a landmark house. Seeing it would tell me where to to turn.

I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there. A stand of bamboo took its place.

Nature always seeks stasis.

I

want to talk about one more thing. Mental health. After the storm and the heavy destruction about 85% of the returnees were on some kind of mood stabilizer. Every one and anyone.

Most of us stopped using those meds because we had, in the words of many psychological practitioners, “Situational Depression.”

Nobody thought about our next phase of mental upset. PTSD. Anybody who has been through an extreme trauma can suffer from it. It doesn’t just affect former military personnel.

It manifests itself in different ways. A photographer I know tried to commit suicide by cop. Thankfully, he’s known about town. The NOPD knew him and talked him down. Drinking reached an all time high in a city that is perpetually drunk. There was a very high divorce rate in the first couple of years after the storm.

On the other hand, when we ran into each other for the first time after the storm we’d greet each other with hugs, kisses and dancing in the streets. And, that was just the men.

Me? Only a kind of PSTD plagues me every year about this time. I start getting hyper vigilant. I start checking our storm plans. And, I start getting clumsy. For a big guy I’m pretty light on my toes. In the house, we all are.

Ha!

Let’s talk about today. I started to make espresso. We have big plumbed thing that is a PIA to use so we bought a little Nespresso machine. I noticed the water tank was almost empty. I filled a measuring cup and started to pour it into the tank. I missed it by that much and the water ended up on the counter and floor. I dropped two full cups of espresso on the floor. I went upstairs and walked into a wall. That wall has been there since we lived into the house. And, so it went.

I can hardly wait for tomorrow.


Luna at dusk.

W

ordpress has beaten it out of me. After yesterday’s fiasco I think I’ll go back to simple things because WordPress really doesn’t like photographers.

Instead of fostering community growth and spirit by suggesting we work together on projects, they want writers to use Upsplash if they need photographs.

Upsplash is a portal. Photographers upload their work. If a user needs a picture, they find it, use it with no payment or credit line.

Even worse, if the user makes modification to the image, the copyright flows to them.

It’s licensed robbery.

Young photographers are so anxious to get noticed that they see this as a way to build up clients and tear sheets.

Hahahahahaha.

If your name isn’t seen, you don’t get noticed.

In fact, it would be very easy to go to Upsplash, cull the best pictures, download them, modify them ever so slightly and stick my copyright information on the images.

Hmmm…. I’d never have to leave my house again.

But, that would be boring.

T

hat little quarter moon is what caught my attention. It was really hard to photograph, which is why some of the trees look a little soft.

But, the moon is sharp and that’s what matters to me.

For sure, there was some editing going on here. I did what I often do. Instead of adding colors, I remove the mid tones to reveal the colors hiding in the gray fog.

That’s what you are looking at.

I

was done writing, thinking less is more.

Apparently, WordPress is watching or scanning Storyteller.

They fixed the problem of the jumping cursor.

I complained here, not directly to WordPress.


The summer wind blew through the grasses of the season.

A

nother weird week. It seems like death is following us around no matter what we do.

I suppose that’s the way it is going to be until we manage the virus and people are able to think again.

I have no idea what killed Charlie Watts. But, it may illustrate something that I’ve long said. Touring is not good for man or animal.

I don’t care how you do it, your body pays for it. I don’t care whether you drive from show to show in a van and sleep on somebody’s couch or fly private and stay in a private home.

Funny, how a musician proceeds up the ladder. You start by sleeping on someone’s floor or couch. You proceed to cheap motels, eventually moving up to five star hotels and finally back into a house.

This time, it’s a 12 bedroom house in an exclusive neighborhood that a sponsor donated to you for a couple of nights.

Still, jumping through time zones, working an upside down day, eating food — good or bad — at the wrong times, coming down from the adrenalin rush and never knowing where you are, is not good for the body, mind and soul.

Did Charlie’s job play a part in his death? Or, was it simply a matter of aging? Or, was it a combination of both.

Does it matter? After all, dead is dead.

It matters to me. In 13 years I’ll be 80. That sounds like a long time, but where the hell did the last 67 years go?

It happened like a blink of the eye.

It always does.

T

his is my third time around on this post. Once again, the paragraphs locked and no edits or additions could be made.

I did learn something. Up at the top of the page there is a blue “Save Draft” line. Press it and it save the page exactly as it is minus the block edits.

No matter what WordPress claims, the block system is not flexible.

See that white space next to this column?

It came about because I wanted to make the picture larger. It’s a picture that I’d hang on my wall so I wanted you to see a larger version.

That went fine until I tried to build a block there. You can’t. You can’t add another column, or a calendar, or a list of previous posts.

All I know is that programmers are programmers. They have no sense of design or art. It’s all math to them.

That’s why there are so many freelance WordPress coders. The code is so complicated that it takes specialty programmers to create anything different.

Hire one of those folks and guess what? The block system is flexible.

Sheesh.


A cold wind blowing from the north.

A

nyone who has been around Storyteller for any length of time knows that there I are things I almost never do.

I rarely post twice in one day.

I rarely post another photographer’s work unless we are working on something together.

And, I never post a picture without a credit line.

All of those things happened yesterday day.

But, with the passing of Charlie Watts, and the musical world in tears, I thought it was the right thing to do.

In the words of Eric Clapton, goodnight sweet prince.

I

think I wrote that when something really big goes south, like the pandemic, it takes a lot of lesser things with it.

August has certainly proven that to me. The number of non-Covid deaths among people I care about in some way has risen to ten in twelve days.

I have no idea what to make of it except to say, “Yeah, I told you so.” But, what’s the point of that? You know it and I know it.

T

his is one of those pictures in which I try to make something from nothing.

It’s an almost bare tree in winter. The sky is pretty.

I photographed it, took the detail out of the sky.

Viola.

R

ather than be snarky with the “I told you so nonsense,” I thought I’d talk about an idea that came to me in a moment of day dreaming.

Many of you know that I don’t drink. I stopped over 28 years ago with a little help from my friends and hundreds of others who I didn’t know. At one point I even employed a psychiatrist to guide me. He discussed the notion of psychic energy.

It’s not what you are thinking. It’s not a spacey predictability idea. It’s not spooky. Instead, it refers to the amount of truly powerful energy we can put into a project. His point is that once you exhaust that you have to take some time to recharge.

I’ve talked about three hours being the length of time that I can photograph something before I start feeling like “I’ve left it all on the field.” That’s my psychic energy being depleted. If I take some time to rest, I can go back to work.

So, here’s my theory.

The New York Times talks about lethargy being introduced to us via the pandemic and accompanying lockdowns and worry.

What if, our (my) psychic energy has been drained and not been restored to a point that we start everyday full and ready to deal with the day’s issues?

What if we never fully recharge?

For me, I know that half the time I am walking around in a daze. When I do manage to work I complete my task and stop. That’s not me. I’m the Energizer Bunny. I go until there’s nothing more to do that day

You know how “you know what you know” sometimes? That’s how I feel right now. That’s great, but the question is what to do to recapture the energy.

I think routine is important. For almost 18 months I haven’t done what I normally do. I work from home in the studio most of the time unless we are traveling. My routine isn’t that of someone who goes to work everyday outside of the home. I’m either blessed or cursed.

Think about what you do before you go to work. Even though you normally don’t think about it, it tells your body and mind that you are leaving for work. And, to get ready.

Right now my psychic energy is at an all time low, if it exists at all. It’s time to restore that. At least, I’ll be a little more focused. But first, the routine.


The greenies.

T

here’s a lot of reckoning and taking journeys through the past going on this house.

We did a lot during the first lockdown. We stared to raise our heads and — BLAMMO — Delta-x and my own issues locked us down again.

This time, it’s deep diving into past. I’ll think about my oldest archives and just laugh. Twenty-five years of shooting black and white film isn’t the easiest thing to organize.

The rest is easier because the slides were edited by Hurricane Katrina. I recently found a slide page that I thought I could save. I removed a slide and the smell came wafting out even though it’s been 16 years. It’s a smell that you’ll never forget.

Luckily, my best work was scanned and traveled with us when we evacuated. These days, my best work is in a cloud. Know the password and it’s with you wherever you are.

The rest of my archive are digital files. They are already organized by date, subject and location. The reason to work through is to find the lost gems and to compress the archive by removing all of the out takes.

Some photographers use the Monica Lewinski – Bill Clinton event as a reason to keep everything you shoot because you never know. One photographer found one negative after hours of looking. That hasn’t been repeated that I know of, except by me, when a video producer need pictures of a murder in the New River Valley of Virginia.

There are two other paths we are taking. I’ll tell you about them tomorrow if I remember. Trust me. I might not remember.

Who I am I, again?

T

echnique? Ha!

See it. Push the button a couple of times. Develop it. Edit it.

Done.

I suppose you can see that the picture is about new leaves growing in a place where they normally wouldn’t except you never know.

Those little green leaves could turn into branches.

If.

The birds and squirrels leave them alone.

But, this reshuffling of old pictures is getting — shall we say — old.

I might actually go outside and wander around. It’s time.

Time to pull up my pants and get to work.


As a dog sees it.

T

his picture has taken me awhile to edit and share. I’m sure that you have a pretty good idea of why. This is a dog’s eye view.

There.

That should make it clear.

Anyway.

I made the picture on a day like this. No light. No color. The overcast wasn’t even good enough to make a black and white portrait. It’s late summer. It’s what we expect. It’s hurricane season too. So far so good. But, the season ends in November.

Oddly, New York, Long Island and New England are the target for what was something major. How weird is that?

We had two tropical storms in the gulf. One went to Mexico. The other caused yet more damage in the poor country of Haiti and dropped some water on Florida.

You’ll have to excuse me for talking about tropical storms and hurricanes, but we are nine days from the 16th anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.

I’m pretty sure that anybody who has been through it and survived turns a little strange about now. Add that to the never ending pandemic and there plenty of folks who could probably use something very strong to calm them down.

I’m so worn down from the pandemic that hurricane season isn’t getting much of a rise out of me. I’m even thinking less about where would we go in the event of an evacuation. Last year, the pandemic left us with nowhere to run.

It’s a little different this year. If we can get out of the south we’d be fairly safe. Or, at least, safer than last year.

Who knows?

B

oy. Did I do a lot of work to this picture.

First, I made it look like it was lost in the fog.

I let it marinate for a few months.

When I looked at again, I thought this picture needs something. I was wrong. It needed a lot of somethings.

I went to work.

Tinkering. Experimenting. Playing. Changing.

Eventually, something seemed to work. Note, the use of the word “seemed.”

As I look at it on this page, I think “Ugg.” It looks like I filtered it with pea soup.

It’s very possible that instead of publishing it, I should bin it.

But, I’d have to do more work on a day when I shouldn’t be working at all.

After all the laying around for too long, I got going. Now, I really do need a couple hours break.

If it isn’t one thing it’s another.

I’m writing it off to this year. The one that was supposed to be better than 2020, the year of the “great” new decade.

How did that work out?


Out of the blue and into the black.

W

e do it for the stories we could tell, so says Jimmy Buffett, even when we know do that something could end badly. It’s especially true if you are a young teenager. I was 13 or 14 when I did that story telling thing.

I went to a day camp during summer. One day we were taken to a pretty big and wild park. We could borrow or rent bicycles. So, I borrowed one.

All good so far.

We road to a sort of big peak. The ride was gradual, but if we wanted to continue in the same direction we had to ride down a pretty steep path. The chose would have been walk down or turn back. We should have chosen either of those two options.

Oh no.

We just had to ride. Being the biggest idiot among us, I rode first. About 30 feet into the ride I realized there was no braking and certainly no stopping. I made it about 75% of the way down. I hit a surface tree root. I went airborne, then I went side wise, and finally upside down.

I landed on my face.

I was battered and bruised. After a little clean up by one of the camp counselors I looked better, but not much. I was lucky. I could have broken all sorts of parts. I didn’t.

When I got home my mom was horrified. My dad just laughed. He asked if I would do it again.

Yes.

Of course, for the rest of the summer I was called skid face.

Kids can be so cruel.

I was their hero. I did something they were afraid to do.

So there.

A

pologies. If something doesn’t make sense on the other side.

That WordPress programming trick of capturing everything in a block and not allowing editing happened not once, but twice.

If you try to edit, the software deletes whole sentences. The only way to recapture any of it is to revert to a saved version.

But, that only brings your work so far.

So you rewrite whatever you lost.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember sentences exactly. I reconstruct them as best I can.

Do that three times and you have no idea what you originally wrote.

Add to that the newest annoyance, placing the cursor at the start of a sentence even though I intentionally placed it in the middle, and I almost gave up today.

WordPress has to stop this. Even though I said I’d stay here because of the community, I’ll leave if this nonsense doesn’t stop.

I’ll ghost. That’s where I’ll go to a blogging platform called Ghost.