Lost explorer

Things fall apart. Things get lost. Especially little kids toys. We had a week of rain. When it stopped falling this little happy man drifted to this pile of leafs and twigs.

When everything dried out enough so the dogs wouldn’t get their precious paws wet out we went. We found this little stranded guy. They sniffed at him and kept going. I called out “stop,” and they listened for once.

I made a couple of pictures and away we went.

I said very early on in the pandemic that the so-called new normal could be a lot better than it was in the past.

Apparently, our transitional president prefers to be a transformative one. I’m sure many of you might disagree, but I fully support his plans. Totaled together we are talking about trillions of dollars. The money will come from raising taxes on the rich and on corporations. In many ways it’s a redistribution of wealth.

Sounds socialist, yes?

If you said yes, you don’t know much about socialism. I lived in China. I’ve seen socialism up close. Even though the country has turned more capitalistic, the laws and rules are draconian.

These plans ain’t that. Instead they go a ways to fix the huge inequities that The United States faces today. Besides who doesn’t want the country’s infrastructure repaired and made better? Who doesn’t want to give young children their best start at life? Who doesn’t want to make sure all people are healthy?

Well, one Republican woman congressperson doesn’t. Most Republican lawmakers sat on their hands which is to be expected. If they made comments it was after the president’s speech and they didn’t attack the entire thing. She did. And, she did it while he was speaking.

The setting spoke volumes about the state of the country today. The chamber was quiet. Only 20% population of a normal joint session was allowed. Food was restricted. There were no guests. There were no aisle hogs.

Outside, there were fences. There were at least a thousand National Guardsmen and women. There were police. Movement was restricted.

Is this also part of the new normal?

I hope not.

I’d like to say that there was a lot of technology involved in making this picture.

There wasn’t.

This picture involved seeing. My seeing and the dogs seeing and sniffing.

Then, it was just a matter of making the proper exposure and doing very little in editing and post production.

I know this little toy guy is a character in a movie, but for the life of me I can’t remember which one. At least he is dressed properly for a flood.

A day or two later we passed by the place where we found the toy. It was gone. Hopefully, the child who lost it found it.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask (I don’t care about the lifting of restrictions). Wash your hands. Keep your distance (Opening sports and venues for full crowds seems short sighted). Get your jabs (Especially those of you who are getting your second injection). Look after each other. Be patient (See above.)


Golden motion.

One drop.

Of sunlight.

The all seeing dog and I finally got outside around dusk. She won’t go out if rain is falling on her. The rain gave up earlier in the afternoon but she was doing the other thing she does best. Sleeping.

We walked the long way and saw these last few flowers of summer glistening in the sun. That wonderful all seeing dog kept tugging at me so she could go to her favorite place. I accidentally made this picture. Then I made the correct ones. I like this one better so there you have it. The dog was right again.

Sheesh.

My life is run by a dog.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every tuna sandwich.


The thing that I’m looking for.

It’s not really a thing. It’s a person. Me.

I’ve written briefly about my paternal family. I knew the family mythology. I knew what we were told. Every bit of it was wrong or a lie. A while back I took Ancestry.com’s DNA test. I reckon not much is private now and they had the biggest database, so off I went.

I few things were confirmed. Sorta.

One day about a year ago I received an email from a guy why might be related to me. We emailed back and forth for a while. I suppose we both got tired of it. Ancestry.com sent me an email telling me that they found more new data.

I decided to subscribe for six months so I could try to dig into the records. What I found was stunning.

We were told that our grandfather jumped ship and deserted from the Royal Russian Navy after being told to fire on their own people during the first Russian Revolution in 1905. That sounded little too much like The Potemkin Affair, a movie released in 1925.

I discounted it.

I thought that he might have left the country, but those circumstances were a little to close. We were told that he made his way to Hamburg, Germany and sailed on a tramp steamer to Ellis Island where he entered the United States.

Nope.

Somehow he made his way to London where he lived for a little while. He probably got together enough money to buy a ticket on a ship called the Haverford. He left from Liverpool and arrived in Philadelphia in 1910. He met my grandmother about the same time. I never knew him. He died in 1948 at the age of 60 or 61.

Here’s where it gets really tricky.

I thought my dad was an only child. He wasn’t. He had a older sister who was born in 1915 called Ruth Shirley Olga Laskowitz. She lived with her family as documented on the 1920 census. She drops off in 1930. She meets a man called James Albert Miller, with whom she has six children — my cousins.

Again, it gets tricky.

My cousins were born in 1939, 1943 and 1949. I’mm not sure when the other three were born. She and Mr. Miller did not get married until 1962. My cousins are all Millers. Riddle me all of that, Batman.

Mr. Miller — my uncle — died in 1974 on Long Island. Ruth Shirley Olga moved to California where she lived in Cypress, just across the Los Angeles County border in Orange County. We lived about five minute into LA County. We were maybe ten minutes apart. She died in 1990. I never knew her, or heard of her until a little while ago.

Of the Miller family all that is left for me are very distant cousins who call my late aunt, great-great grandmother. They never knew her.

I have no idea why everything was so secret. There is no one I can talk to because they are lost to the fog of time. I wish, when I was younger and my parents were alive, that I had questioned them. But, by then our relationship wasn’t great.

I know where my grandfather came from. I have a pretty good idea where my grandmother came from. I’m not concerned about my maternal grandfather and mother. Their history is quite clear as my aunts and cousins have done quite a lot of research.

I had this big plan to travel to Belarus and a region in Poland that used to be called Galicia. I was going to do it after my big work was finished this year. You know what they say. If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. Along came the pandemic.

That’s why I’m sad. I’m lost. I’m confused. I’ve lost my mojo. I’ve lost my hope. I feel like I don’t know who I am.

The Picture.

I needed this picture. It’s light. It’s happy. The clouds made me smile when I saw them. We had a huge storm yesterday. A cold and warm front clashed. The booms of thunder made me cringe. By mid-afternoon the storm blew out. When the all seeing dog and I took a walk, the clouds in the picture are what we saw.

I didn’t take very long to make the pictures. I took even less time in post production. Mother Nature did her thing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every hour.


Not what you think.

Popsicle Color.

I told you about this yesterday. I used the baby Leica to make the picture so I had to develop it in the normal way. That’s why you are seeing it a day later.

There is something really strange about this series of pictures. This is what the sky looked like to my eye. It’s not how it looked in the camera’s LCD. There was no orange. When I uploaded it to my main machine using Photo Mechanic the orange returned, like magic.

There is plenty of magic to art. There is no magic to technology. This is technology. I’ll do some Googling around to answer the mystery.

No matter what, this is the real deal. This is how the sky looked yesterday evening. This is the sky following a large rain storm. I did nothing to the image except finish the edges.

Saharan dust has long passed by. There will be a huge dust storm in a week or two, but this isn’t that. This is just water droplets configured by nature in such a way that they reflect low sunlight causing everything to look orange.

Often I say that the result of an event is beyond my pay grade. Not this time. I understand the physics behind it. I’ve just never seen such total color coverage.

The Picture

I looked out the window and said to myself, “Oh my.” I grabbed the Leica as I went out the door. I made exposures as fast as I could because this was taking place during the blue hour, which was the orange hour. Either way, the “hour” lasts about 35 minutes. I developed and processed the files today. What you see is what I saw out of the window.

Stay Safe. Stay mighty. You know what to do. Enjoy every minute.


Canadian National's track repair var, with it's orange working with the orange of goldeb hour post storm.
All golden.

And, the chaser…

I was concentrating on my work when I felt two paws on my leg. Time for a walk. Once again, she came through. I wouldn’t have seen the most beautiful golden light that we usually have after a storm. if we hadn’t gone out.

I did the best that I could, not planning for it, or having any real warning. Sophie Rose and I hustled to our usual go to place. I made a lot of potential photographs while she patiently waited for me to finish.

After I developed the image, I proceeded to post production, where I did very little.I brought up the color. But, not very much.

Speaking of color, there was a happy accident. That rail repair car is actually painted “safety yellow,” but with the golden light reflecting off of it, the car turned orange. It matched the clouds in the sky.

Stay safe. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.


After the storm. If you’re lucky you get a rainbow.

Sometimes,

You get lucky. You get to see the rainbow after the storm.You get to see nature being friendly rather than allowing us to get sick and die. That’s what this picture is about. Hope. You know me. You can’t eat hope. If you have hope right now, you’d better go to work.

Hope, unfortunately, is withering on the vine. I read a story in The New York Times about our new future. It’s grim. The virus is forever. There will be ebbs and flows depending on what we open and what we don’t. I fear sort the sports and entertainment industries. Fans going to a venue wil be in a petri dish. Maybe some get sick. Maybe some won’t.

We are in the digital age, so maybe some of these events can be done online. While some people might recoup some funds, that’s not what live events are about. It doesn’t account for what they really about. Excitment. Energy. Fan interaction. Instead there will 300 or 400 people in a stadium designed for 50,000 people.

Okay. That stuff isn’t important.

Non-essential businesses are important. How are they going to be staffed? How are they going to be regulated from a health standpoint? How do staffers interact with the public? These questions, and more, are yet to be answered.

You can’t rush this stuff. You can’t set a deadline. You can’t rush nature. Nature moves in her own good time. This new normal is forever. Oh sure, it will be modified as we learn. I’m sure that there will be V. 1.0, V1.5, V. 2.0, and so on. Maybe in 70 years things will settle down. After all, that’s how long it to the Spanish Flu to eventually morph in H1N1, the seasonal flu that rolls around in the fall.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


A brand new tree.

It’s got to start somewhere.

I thought.

The change has to come. Maybe from a little seed. Maybe from a terrible tragedy. Like gun violence. Like the three mass shootings that we had last week. Like the horrific number of shootings in Chicago. Like the never ending gun violence in my home city. New Orleans.

When I made this picture, I knew what it was about. This is a little bitty baby tree, growing from seeds after a storm.

We’ve had the storm. The storm clouds haven’t broken. The man in charge won’t do anything. I watched his speech. Did you? He looked drugged. He mumbled. He thought one of the shootings took place in Toledo. No, Mr. President. That’s was Dayton. Dayton, Ohio. In a state that you need to carry if you have a hope of being re-elected.

I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Aside from his hate filled racist rhetoric, he killed my retirement fund yesterday, with his “easy to win trade wars.” The Chinese reacted in the only ways they could. They stopped buying grain and soy beans from American farmers. And, they let the Renminbi (Yuan) drop to a conversion rate that is higher than it was when I used to roam around Asia.

I can afford to travel to China since goods, services and lodging are much cheaper for me. But, after the stock market reacted, my retirement fund tanked. Now I might not have the money to travel.

So.

What to do?

Since our government leaders seem to be stuck in place, it’s up to us. It is always up to us.

Look around the world.

Puerto Rican citizens forced a corrupt leader out of power.

Hong Kong people are striking in every possible way. On Monday, they shut the whole city down. By forcing the MTR (subway) to stop, the Hong International Airport was forced to cancel 200 flights.  My fear is that with the PLA (People’s Liberation Army — Chinese Army) mounting up in Shenzhen, just across the border, they may enter the city. There will be serious bloodshed. I lived in Hong Kong for a long time. Those are my people.

All of that said, maybe it’s time for us to strike. To shut everything down. To force our politicians to act. To act now, because waiting 18 months to vote is too long. People are dying. People are afraid to go shopping, to go school, to go hear a concert, to gather in a crowded place.

One of my jobs in my other career is to predict the future. I think about our local events.

What about Mardi Gras?

What about French Quarter Fest?

What about Jazzfest?

A guy with a gun could kill hundreds before he could be stopped. I’m having second thoughts about making pictures during those events.

Even neighborhood second lines — the thing that is near and dear to me — could be compromised. If a deranged white power dude wanted to take out Black People that would be the place to do it.

The whole thing sucks.

That’s why we have to step up. Somehow. Some way.

Because.

Doing nothing will kill more of us.

A few notes.

I promised that Storyteller would be a politics free zone. It would be a place to talk about art. About photography. About seeing. And, about some technology.

I’ve broken my promise to you. I’m so sorry.

But, if I say nothing I’m as culpable as the people doing us harm. So, you see, I have no other choice. I’ve got to speak. I fear that in the future — I don’t know when — Storyteller may publish pictures of events I don’t really want to photograph. But, my journalistic roots won’t let me ignore the events of change.

I’m sorry about that too.

That was never my intent.

Peace.

 


Memories and clouds.

” It’s a summer afternoon, somewhere in Kansas or Illinois or Oklahoma. The wind is blowing the leaves down the gutter as the mailman comes by. “Afternoon Mrs. Higgins, hot enough for ya?” Over on Stone County Road there’s the smell of chicken frying.

“Henry! It’s getting t’wards suppertime you know. Henry!” There she calls from her second floor room. The end of a back porch afternoon. Where we’d stand on the bow of our own man-of-war.

No longer the back porch any more. And we’d sail pulling for China. The pirates of Stone County Road. All weathered and blown. And we’d sail ever in glory. ‘Till hungry and tired.

The pirates of Stone County Road. Were turning for home. “

— 1969, John Stewart. From the album, California Bloodlines.

Once a upon a time. Long ago. I seem to be determined to go on a journey through my past. I’ve been having dreams about the past. About a 1969 El Camino with a 454 big block motor. About places that I’ve been. About people I’ve lost over the years.

This musician, John Stewart, mattered to me a lot once. After he passed I sort of forgot him. Magically, this song popped into my head this morning. So, now I’m playing the album from which it came. It’s called, “The Pirates of Stone Country Road.” The version that I like best is live, from an amazing concert back, way back in time. The live album is called, “The Phoenix Concerts.” No. Not after the desert city. After the bird who rises from the ashes.

Anyway. Enough of you are interested in my ancestor’s history that it sparked my thinking. I’ve decided to take one more shot at learning about my family history. This time I’ll do it right. I’ll spend more money on research. I won’t stop with Ancestory.com. I have nothing against them. But, they can only take me as far as I already know. We are taking this a step further. A lot of steps further. A trip is in the very basic planning stages. My little town – Horodok — is in sort of located in an odd place. Even though it’s a Belorussian place, it’s actually located in Ukraine. The closest big city is located in Poland. The legend of this region is that you could live there, go to sleep in one country and wake up in another. That’s just how fast the borders changed, especially pre-1910.

I have a question for you. This could cost some serious money. I see a lot of pictures coming out of this. I see the possibility of a book. (Finally, I think that  have a project in mind that is worthy of a book.)  I advised a friend of mine to create a GoFundMe site, as I did once, to fund her gallery shows. I think these projects are self-contained and somewhat worthy.

I’ve watched GoFundMe deteriorate to the point where I watched a photographer ask for funding for a new camera. WTH? That’s a business expense. Get out of the industry if you can’t pay for your tools. I’ve watched two people ask for funding to pay for their vacations. WTH? Stay home if you can’t afford to travel for pleasure. And, the last came from a person who wants better seats at a concert. WTH?  I’m a fairly generous guy, but really, really and really?

You know where this is going. I think. I’d like your advice. Should I create a GoFunding page for this project? Or, am I over reaching just like the examples that I’ve cited? Oh, don’t feel compelled to contribute just because you think it’s a good idea. I just want your opinions.


Flowing at night.

We had a huge storm. A lot of New Orleans was flooded because the amount of rainfall overwhelmed the drainage pumps. But, not Uptown. All that construction. The work I’ve been complaining about for the last three years.  Well. It paid off. Wet streets, but no heavily accumulated water.

The rain fell so hard, and for so long, that we did not go outside for much of the day. It’s smart to stay inside when somewhere near eight inches of rain falls in three hours.

By nightfall the dogs needed a walk. Yeah. Sure. They have a doggie door and a place to go when nature calls. Even during the lightest rain they are weather wimps. They refuse to go out.

They went out at around 8am. They stayed indoors all day long. By dusk I wanted them to go out. So, out for a walk we went. Nothing was falling from the sky, but the streets were wet and the grass and soil was soaked to the point of sponginess. We went to one of our usual places where there is kind of a water feature.

That’s where I made this picture.

Night Water. That’s what I’m calling it. Sometimes this place is almost dry. Not last night. Water was moving. Sparkling. Twinkling. I wasn’t even sure I could make this picture in such low light. But…

I did.