Tuesday, April 6, 2010
On first and third Fridays Emily comes home right after dinner. On second and fourth Fridays she’s away until Sunday. Then Christine ventures out to a Saturday night partner dance, the one thing she’s found to take her mind off of her loneliness. She’s learned East and West Coast Swing, Nightclub Two Step, and Waltz, but her favorite is the Tango, with its long slinking strides. She glides along the floor cheek-to-cheek with her partner, halting suddenly for a dramatic swoop of a leg and a precision about-face, to start anew in the opposite direction. Christine can forget everything, even who she is, and become an exotic, passionate, mysterious woman for a few magical minutes.
Friends are always trying to fix her up, but she won’t have any part of that. You’re barely 40, Christine, they say. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life alone! One heartbreak per lifetime is enough, she answers. I’d rather be alone. Thanks anyway.
Guys at the dance hand her their cell numbers and ask her to give them a call, but she never does. And she never gives out her own number.
Tonight Christine is reading the Personals and laughing softly when something in the window catches her eye. It’s Todd waving at her to come out. The ache in her chest recedes slightly as she thinks about the fun they have at the Saturday dances. Todd shares her passion for the Tango. In fact, he’s passionate about a number of things that he cares about, such as his charity work and his teaching, and Christine admires that. He’s also not bad looking with silvering hair and a well-kept physique, and he looks very nice dressed up for a special dance. Christine stops herself. Todd is an OK guy, she thinks, and a pretty good dancer, but he’s a guy. Don’t need any of that. Nope. She doesn’t move. He sticks his head in the door and says, Hey how’re you doing Christie? (Why doesn’t she mind his using her nickname?) Missed you last Saturday at the dance. It’s never the same when you’re not there. Come for a walk with me, it’s a beautiful outside. Christine shakes her head and looks down at the paper to dismiss him.
Ten minutes later Todd reappears, this time holding a red rose between his teeth by its stem. Cradling an imaginary partner, he Tangos up and down the sidewalk, stopping every now and then to bend his partner over backwards with a flourish. Christine’s shoulders lift, and she smiles. Todd drops to one knee on the sidewalk, clasping the rose to his chest with one hand and offering the other hand to her, mouthing an aria skyward. Then he pretends to lose strength and slowly crumples towards the sidewalk, like a perishing Romeo. Christine’s chest feels light and warm.
Laughing, she goes out to him.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
The principle behind hyperfocusing is this: the range of a scene that your lens can focus on the most clearly extends 1/3 in front of and 2/3 behind the point in the scene that you focus on (aka the focal point). In order to decide on a focal point, you should pick a point that is 1/3 of the way from the closest point that you want to have in focus in your photo to the most distant point.
The following two photos of seven evenly spaced plant pots illustrate this principle.
Friday, March 5, 2010
“Someone once said that there are only two facts about your life: when you’re born and when you die and everything in between is how you choose to tell the story, or how someone else chooses to tell the story."
"My mother used to say, 'Everything is copy,' meaning that every event in your life will become a story."
Nora Ephron Interview
Thursday, February 25, 2010
To locals, it is a social hub at least as important as the Homeport Restaurant next door. Here you stop as much for gas as to find out how far down Herron Road the County is going to be chip-sealing this week and when George and Leona’s 45th anniversary celebration will be held. You already know it will be at the Longbranch Improvement Club because that’s where all local parties and dances are held. Pete’s knowledge about the lives and circumstances of those he serves makes him a far better source of information about happenings here on the Key Peninsula than any newspaper you can imagine.
Home Texaco is also the place to go and borrow a tool that you don’t happen to have on hand for an auto or tractor repair. Pete doesn’t get to do as many mechanic jobs as he might if his service station were in Tacoma, serving all those city folks who don’t know a darn thing about an engine, but he doesn’t mind. He likes the slow pace of life here and having friends for customers and customers for friends. In fact, if Pete’s Home Texaco were located in the city, it wouldn’t be a gas station. With its view out across Jones Bay to Anderson Island to the East, it would be a fancy eatery or a luxury condominium complex. But it’s in Home, where such views are commonplace and thus not particularly expensive.
You might also cross the street to Home Texaco from the Home Laundromat to break a five for some quarters to feed the washers and dryers. The Korean couple who run both the Laundromat and the Home Grocery have neglected to install a coin changer, although no one seems to care, unless it’s raining and they get wet running across to Pete’s. Certainly Pete doesn’t care. It’s just another opportunity to catch up with people and what’s going on. Few bother to go to the Home Grocery for change even though it’s just on the other side of Home Texaco, probably because folks enjoy the chance to chat with Pete. The Korean couple who runs it does a lot more smiling and nodding than talking, which isn’t nearly as interesting.
Pete is generally more of an ear-witness than an eye-witness because he hears about what happens to people rather than seeing it most of the time. But he did get to watch one of the most exciting events to occur on the Key Peninsula for the entire year of 1996 when Jason Barns raced his souped-up ’77 Trans Am northward up the Key Peninsula Highway – Pete figures he was doing about 120 – careening down the block of road that runs through Home and past Home Texaco. The road makes a 30-degree turn at the end of town, just feet from Pete’s doorway. When Jason tried to make the curve, the Trans Am rocked over onto its two right-hand wheels and then flipped. The car was wrecked. Jason walked away. We all thought that would be the end of Jason’s racing, but barely six months later he was back to it. We just hoped we weren’t in his way the next time he flipped. Pete said that Jason’s wildness started when his mother died the year before, which kept folks from getting too mad at him, even though he was “an endangerment to the community.” But that’s what Pete does. He helps everyone understand everyone else in some way.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
The last couple of photos show VERY slow shutter speeds, of 2 or so seconds. I took these photos outdoors at night, "painting" by moving the camera around.
Large depth of field is good for shots where you want everything to be in focus. (Another trick is using hyperfocusing.) To get the largest depth of field possible with my equipment, the top photo was taken with my wide-angle lens at 17 mm, its minimum focal length, with an aperture of F22, its smallest setting. The branches in the foreground and the buildings and trees in the background are in focus.
The photo at the bottom was taken with my 50-200 zoom at a focal length of 100 mm and an aperture of F 5.6, its largest available setting at that focal length. Same shot as above, just different aperture and lens focal length. Its shallow depth of field emphasizes the arbor vitae branch that I focused on while everything else in the photo is out of focus. Shallow depth of field is particularly good for portrait shots.
*As a post script, Jim Molnar, the writing instructor who gave me the assignment to write this piece in my creative nonfiction writing class last year, encouraged everyone in the class to start a blog. I wrote in this for a couple of months initially, and now and committed to posting regularly.