Reading the Journal

Reading the Journal

In the years before starting this photoblog, I was a journal-er.  This started after my grandmothers death when my aunt, nearing death herself, said to go through the house and see if there was anything we needed to keep.  Tucked inside the front pouch of a very old empty suitcase, I found the 1936 diary of my grandmother.  It was a simple activity for her, she used a calendar or date organizer and simply recorded a paragraph or two each and every day of the year.  I had no idea that they even had organizers back then.  Most people write for an audience, however my grandmother seemed to just jot down her everyday feelings and activities.  There was a lot of complaining, in a soft way.  “Wish Daddy would get off these midnights….” and “I feel so bad today, full of aches and pains….” and thing of that nature.  Mixed in all of this are brief written portraits that are largely like time travel.  Such as the Sunday when they are all sitting down to dinner when they receive word that a relative had been hit and killed by a train on the tracks not far away.  Tragedy and joy, that’s the nature of life I suppose.

Anyway, after finding and reading that journal, I started keeping one myself.  It grew to three volumes and I would make paper printouts to store as a printout at my mother’s home.  She’s been dead a few years and I ran across this backup copy, so randomly opened the the page.  Most of our days are repeats of the ones before them but yet we must keep going.  You never know what is important.  Here is the entry from April 21st, 2003, we were out for a bicycle ride.

 Back to work day.

Jonathan and I took a 10 mile ride after school.  We rode on the new Industrial Parkway from the top of the hill to the Oldfield’s Cemetery.  When we took a break, we walked through and I told some stories.  The one about Archie Caudill who blew himself up with dynamite when trying to get a tree stump out of his backyard.  The one about Matthew Caudill who was deaf (as told to me in the lingo of the 1940’s) and was the victim of his boy-relatives peeing on him from the loft of the old barn.  The one about the fellow who was driving a fishing trip carload of fellows back from Canada when a big bull moose jumped in front of them.  The one about Gracie Patton who lost her young life soon after giving birth to a baby, most likely due to the flu  The one about my Aunt Hazel (visiting from Florida) who walked through this cemetery early one summer morning with me and recalled bringing her mother (my grandmother) to walk through this cemetery during her yearly visits.  As I said to Jonathan, “What I wouldn’t give to walk through here with her and hear all the old stories”.

We mounted up and road the Cannondale tandem back to the car.

 

 

 

Happy Cake Day!

Happy Cake Day!

At some point, birthdays probably shouldn’t mean much.  But Cake Day, now that’s another matter!

Time for a short book review, this time it is Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams.  This is my final novel by this great author, he only penned 3 of them during his lifetime with each being so entirely different that you could hardly imagine it was the same writer.

When I first discovered John Williams, I read the novel Stoner- a book about  life of a boy who is born on a farm but goes on to become a professor of English.  He’s a tortured soul, both in personal and professional life.  We live his life through his thoughts.  The second novel, Augustus, was written in the epistolary form,  meaning the story is told through fictional letters and memoirs.   This is the fictional (but based on fact) life story of Augustus, emperor of Rome.

With Butcher’s Crossing, John Williams penned a western novel, of all things.  Now normally I would just skip a western, I’m not much of a fan of this type of fiction.  But Williams was not the usual writer and that proved to be true, all the cliches and predictable scenes of the TV westerns were all left out and we are left with a very believable depiction of life at that time.  The book is largely about a buffalo hunt that occurs when there are not many buffalo left.

The time period is when the west is standing at the cusp of change, when all of the old wild west is just about to disappear.   Will Andrews is a college age young man who comes from Boston with a bit of money on him, he appears to us as largely citified but feels he is missing something in life.  He has come to experience the west and the brutal nature of it while he can.

He finds that in a buffalo hunt that he finances through a man he meets in Butcher’s Crossing who claims to know where a secret hidden valley lies that is full of buffalo.  This is one, if not the only one, of the last remaining large herds in the west.   No one has believed him in 10 years but Will Andrews is willing to risk his money, after all he is just wanting a big adventure and this will be it, buffalo or no buffalo.  The hunting party is small, just a cook, a skinner, the gunner (Miller, who leads the group), and Andrews.

I remember reading Hemingway last year, the stories about bull fighting and how I felt like I was standing there.  How all the details appeared in your mind in a way that was uncomfortable but yet fascinating.  That was how it felt when that first old buffalo fell to Miller’s gun.  The leader of the pack, you have to shoot him first even though his hide is worthless, Miller claims.  Then shoot the ones that appear to take over, again and again and again.  I can tell you that Williams had written in a way that I nearly quit reading the book at the 50% point because it was so believable and emotional.   The writing was so true that I even felt I knew the basics on how to hunt and skin buffalo.

The book is much more than that, however.  Survivability in the midst of harsh circumstances, in the company of people whom you really don’t like.  Disappointment, as well as the fact of eternal changes- well all of these are wrapped into the story of this book.

In the end, Andrews did get his money’s worth.  And we did too.  I’m left wondering why Williams only penned 3 novels in his lifetime (4 if you count an early one that he said to ignore).

He came to accept the silence he lived
in, and tried to find a meaning in it.

Will Andrews, “Butcher’s Crossing”
Chapter 7 (as they were stranded
for the winter in a snow storm)

Mmmmmm….that’s a wrap!

Mmmmmm....that\'s a wrap!

This will close out our 10th year Anniversary week, it was nice to get out for lunch on three different days with friends.  Thanks for sticking around, we will continue on as the subject matter appears.

Today was lunch with a friend again and some fun shooting stuff on shelves of a basement.  I have a love of typewriters but can’t say I’d like to go back having to work with one every single day but maybe for small projects like a typewriter blog.  A blog written on a typewriter with a Polaroid pasted on the page, just like this one but analog.    I’ve had a small portable one donated but it needs work.

This is sort of a timely image,  for this week we found out in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac that it was the birth week of David McCullough, author of the books Truman and John Adams (both being books that I really enjoyed.  You learned neat things like Adams would write comments in the margins of the books in his library, arguments and such.  I like that he had a sense that his words would time-travel of sorts).

Well, according to other sources, McCullough likes to type on a Royal Standard typewriter.  The story goes (in the same Almanac issue, though I’m paraphrasing by memory) that he once started writing a book on Picasso but grew to really dislike the fellow and stopped the project, noting that you are going to live with the subject for a couple years around the clock so you better kind of like him.

Yep, we’d have to agree with that, some of these images I have really grown to hate over time.  Others you grow to love.    Not long ago, I watched a documentary on the typewriter and was surprised about how many writers still stuck with the old machines, even to the point of stockpiling extra ones to guard against breakdowns.  Well, I’ll write more later if I find others to photograph.

 

 Success

To laugh often and much
To win the respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
Whether by a healthy child, a garden patch
Or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived.
That is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

 

 

Pink handbag

Pink handbag

Here is a Hipstamatic I-Phone photograph with the Sergio lens and Blanko BL4 film.   This is the 10th  anniversary for this blog, technically I think yesterday, though I still have a few years to restore.  Yesterday I took a driving trip along a circuitous route up in Ohio where we found some good smoked ribs.  A severe storm found us and the road disappeared in front of me in a way that  winter storms sometimes cause white outs.  And then the road was not where it was supposed to be.  We hydroplaned a couple of times very briefly and at the end of the day I counted myself very lucky to have arrived home safely.    We shall continue on. 

 “In the morning there is meaning,
in the evening there is feeling.”

Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

 

Backyard work

Backyard work

Working outside in the yard so new photos will be slow for awhile.

 

“After two years, guards began bringing him
books. He read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief
History of Time on five occasions.”

‘I still don’t understand it…..’

Joe Cicippio,

from the NPR article on how to survive
being a hostage for 5 years.  Read this
interesting article on the NPR website.

 

DK Racing

DK Racing

Shooting objects to experiment with B&W and generally just try to stay in practice.  It seemed to be a weekend of racing.  Sorrow for the horse racing folks.  But Dale Jr won, not that I’m a big Nascar fan but I enjoy watching the race when one of the drivers that I know is up front (there are only maybe 3 of them).  I have a theory why Dale Jr is so popular even when he doesn’t win for long periods of time.  When he gets in front of the camera, he’s a real guy saying stuff like gee I drove the hell out of it but we just wasn’t the best on the track today.

See Rock City

See Rock City

A day of rain and non-stop beeping of weather alerts.  Never can remember having  received a national alert on the cellphone, I first thought I had stooped and butt dialed by mistake.  One person was exercising with headphones and took them off to try to determine what the  beeping was, of course it was coming through the phone itself.

Started a book yesterday, the new one by Garrison Keillor.    I’ve attended two of his shows, one live radio show in Lexington KY years ago and a performance here in Ashland on a snowy blizzard-like night a few years back.  After the show, he met my son and said a few words to him, asking what he was going to study in school.  You could tell for those few moments, nothing else existed in the world for him other than the conversation with my son, in a different way than most folks interact.  Trying to make a real lasting personal connection for the few moments he had.  I’ll not forget that.

He is a master with sentences and paragraphs:

 “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. In Minnesota, you learn
to avoid self-pity as if it were poison ivy in the woods.
Winter is not a personal experience; everyone else is
as cold as you are; so don’t complain about it too much.”

from the Keillor Reader  (more of a review later)