All Souls Day


Folks don’t realize that “Day of the Dead” is actually a three day long series of observances. It evolved from a fusion of Mexican traditional rituals with Catholic Church practices. It’s a vigil on October 31, the recognition and remembrance of saints on November 1, and remembrance of all souls on November 2.

Last year on November 1 I marked the day with a picture of a little ofrenda to remember Georgia and CancerCat. This year it was a LOT more crowded. This was a brutal year. Some loss was foreseen, much of it wasn’t. If I dig, I can point to all the learning and personal growth that the year since last November 2 has brought me. It’s all learning that sucks.

We fear death, and after the last year I can see why people feel that way. The rollercoaster of emotions isn’t fun. For people who thrive on control, I imagine it’s even worse. I end the night with a prayer to those who’ve passed on, and those who still walk with us. Here is hoping that the next 365 days are a little gentler on all of us.

Why film? A return to old school


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I had a camera in my hand on and off starting at age 4. Mom loved photography, and was very good about handing the old 110 camera over to me when I asked for it. There are hundreds of bad pictures scattered through the family picture collection. Most of them come from the hands of the two youngest members of the family. In high school, I jumped at the chance to take a “real” photography class.

I struggled through learning the various techniques, through learning how to compose a compelling image, and how to translate the cool thing my brain saw into an image others would enjoy. My favorite part was always the darkroom. Dinking around with rolls of film, the quiet and solitude of standing around in the dark, waiting patiently to see if something good showed up…this was the best part of the day.

After college, I eventually graduated to the world of digital. It was a great way to get back into photography after a layoff, without the expense of film. I built up a pretty impressive library over the past 15 years or so.

Recently, I stumbled across an article on stand developing.┬áThis got me interested in doing some of my own black and white developing again. So I picked up a few cheap rolls of film, jammed them into a camera, and started shooting. I’ve also started to develop some old rolls of film that I had kicking around from when I lived in DC.

Doing your own processing requires a little more focus. Stand developing is pretty forgiving of mistakes. But the process of getting your film ready for processing is much less forgiving. I’ve got old school metal reels, and they push you to be patient and use good technique. Poor technique means a bad load, and then bad, blotchy developing.

I’m having to force myself to slow down, and not cut corners. It’s by turns irritating, and incredibly useful. It’s making me work through a problem, not just throw up my hands and walk away.

I’ll start posting some of the experiments. I’m aiming to get at least 1 roll of something shot, and developed each week. It’s not a hard plan, more of an elective kind of idea. The biggest thing is I’m not pressing myself for perfect. I’m not going to get perfect with this technique. I’m learning to accept things as they are, not as I want them to be.

Writing as a friend


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I’ve done a lot of writing that I just keep refusing to hit the publish button on. The reasons vary, but the underlying issue is one of perfection. I’ve gotten backed into an uncomfortable mental corner where I feel that every word has to be just right. Every sentence has to be grammar school perfect. Every thought has to be full and complete. Yet that’s often not how my best writing comes forth. My best stuff comes when I start tossing ideas out, then let others interact with them, helping me find ways to refine the thoughts.

Stream of consciousness writing isn’t polished and sparkly, but it’s the fuel that leads to that polished, sparkly stuff. So for now, it’s time to push some of the less sparkly bits out into the world, and see what I get. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It does need a little time to breathe so that I can get comfortable with it again. Writing is work, but for me it’s also been a long time friend. When I can’t view it as that friend, then I lose interest and the overall tenor and quality drops.

Like most friends, you go through phases. The relationship goes up and down. I’ve been in a bit of a down phase. It’s time to push it back up.

Looking for steady ground


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A few months ago, the world turned sideways. A dear friend killed herself.

It was unexpected, unthinkable, and knocked my legs right out from under me. I’ve done hospice and medical fostering for several years. So loss isn’t a foreign concept to me. I’ve lost friends and lovers along the way. I’ve lost communities I value, and people who’s opinions I deeply respected.

This was the first close friend I’ve lost. She was the first friend I’ve lost to suicide. You can know in your head all the logical things about death, loss, and suicide. You can experience some of it on the edges of your life, and understand a little bit. You can’t quite wrap your head around it. You hope you’ll never have to.

I can wrap my head around it now. I wish I couldn’t. There are life lessons I am more than happy to never experience. This is very much one of them.

I keep looking for steady ground. I can’t quite find it yet.

Miss you Brit.

Last Christmas light


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There’s that beautiful moment where the last light of the day, mixes with the lights of your Christmas tree and the room just glows. There’s a beautiful mix of promise and warmth in that light. So many people cut Christmas off abruptly on the 26th. Others wait for the 1st of January. I always wait through the full 12 days of Christmas.

As the Feast of the Ephihany approaches, the light on Christmas slowly goes out. It’s important to enjoy those last moments.



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