I don’t know where I am when I wake up sometimes

I’ve meant to get back to those last rolls I shot on the west side and I’ve just been so busy. Busy at work, busy being busy, busy avoiding things, busy with things I don’t feel like doing but must do. You know. Or maybe you don’t (lucky you).

I’ve been missing my dog. I know it takes time, but I miss having her near me. I miss hearing her breathe. There is a lot I don’t miss about how her last several years were, but I feel a bit lost without her. There are moments of tears that surprise even me.

Last week was a whirlwind of work meetings in California, then a long weekend on a mountaintop near Ukiah, spent with an old friend plus strangers who now feel like family. I felt mothered for a weekend, and I haven’t felt mothered in a long time. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed this, either. Maybe it’s not true for everyone, but to be cared for is such a treat. I want to have this and to provide this. If you come to stay at my house, I want to make you feel this way. It was nourishing, and I am grateful.

I still feel like I’m recovering from the trip. I left a sunny, hot mountaintop to come back to an early winter and six inches of snow. This week in Michigan was gray, dull, cold, a sharp contrast to the sun and brilliant colors of the changing leaves on fields of grapevines blanketing the valleys and hillsides of California. It’s been a rough re-entry. After travel and several beds, and the summer at the cottage and the fall back-and-forth from home and the cottage, I often have to get my bearings when I wake up each morning. I’m not quite sure where I am for a minute or two. And I’m enjoying that, really. There’s a moment of dream state and a realm of possibilities before I know where I am settled.

But I meant to get back to those rolls of film I shot in September, and so here are some photos I took on the I guess not-so-newly released Kodak Ektachrome. Gosh, it’s pretty, the cool, saturated colors of this slide film. I walked through the woods with it loaded in my favorite camera, the Minolta SRT-102, and took my time with it, waiting for colorful sunsets and clouds over the lake.

000367410031.jpg
000367410035.jpg
000367410034.jpg
000367410025.jpg
000367410021.jpg
000367410016.jpg
000367410014.jpg
000367410010.jpg
000367410003.jpg

You can see a few more from the roll here, if you like.

rising waters

Both literally and figuratively. I’m paddling hard here.

Lake Michigan is high. I mean, all the Great Lakes are high. Polar ice caps are melting, oceans are rising, we’re toasting up this blue ball we live on here and the news isn’t good. But I’m not tackling all that. I’m just one person in one little cottage atop a bluff on Lake Michigan, and that lake is getting closer.

That’s the literal bit.

The figurative bit is that it’s been a rough summer. It was different, sharing close quarters with my dad. I think we did ok but there were bumps for sure. And, I lost my sweet old dog in early September. It was for the best, but I’m still bruised and missing her. Things are going on with my kids and my husband, too, but those aren’t my stories to tell. It’s interesting, parenting grown people. The things I worried about when they were little make me laugh a bit now. If I’d known the challenges of parenting adults I might have softened up a bit back then.

Hindsight is 20/20 though, right? Or so they say.

000469710008.jpg

Anyway, I sent seven rolls of a variety of films off to the lab a bit more than a week ago. Here are images from one of those rolls, Ilford FP4+ shot on my Mamiya C220.

000469710011.jpg
000469710004.jpg

Silver Lake State Park is just a few miles from me. Most people think of the park as a place to go dune buggy riding, and that’s probably what it’s most known for. But I like it for the landscape. And I like it best off season when I can hike all of it, not just the areas relegated for foot traffic. Plus, I feel like I’m the only one out there off-season–just me and 3,000 acres of dunes and woods. The dune buggy season ends at the end of this month, so I’m really looking forward to visiting again soon.

000469710012.jpg
000469710010.jpg

I love shooting here. I can shoot the same piece of driftwood a hundred times or year after year–I swear it’s different every time. The sands shift, the wind covers one piece and unearths another. These skeletons of old trees are gorgeous sculptural elements on this vast, shifting landscape. I can never get enough and so I will keep going back.

000469710003.jpg
000469710002.jpg

Friday night, and it’s August

moonflower, Kodak T-Max, Minolta X700

I am not quite sure what it says about me that I’d rather lay in bed tonight with the windows and doors open and listen to my dog snore loudly and the intermittent call of an owl in the woods behind the cottage and the constant chirping crickets, than go over to the neighbor’s bonfire. I love my neighbors. I can be social and I love being social. But it’s Friday night, it’s the beginning of August, I don’t know how much longer this dog will be around and oh, the owl and the crickets sounds are intoxicating.

Today I got the scans from five rolls of film; three black and white, one Lomography Lomochrome Purple, and one Kodak Ektachrome that expired in 2006. I don’t think I’ve been so happy with images since the photos I took in Iceland. Primarily July blooms, some macro, with a cheap macro lens I bought decades ago as well as even cheaper macro filters. I make no apology for my use of cheap tools–I love the outcome.

I’ll upload them all to flickr over the next few days and write more, but here’s a moonflower for now.

late July and I’m thinking too much, maybe

private property
PRIVATE PROPERTY

I’m pretty sure my husband does not read this blog, because a) I don’t know him to be the blog-reading type and b) I don’t write about bikes or cycling, which is pretty much the thing that he loves best (and I have no issues with this–we each have our “things”). And I don’t talk about him here because he’s a private guy and he’d think it’s cheesy and all that. Maybe I’ve written about him once or twice in the context of us being married for a really long time and that we might know a little something about being married a long time. Or maybe that he’s good at a lot of things. And smart. But that might be it.

But things are changing in our lives, and some of those changes have been challenging but some have also been pretty enlightening and overall good in the scheme of life-things. We just spent a week together, which might sound weird because we are married, but we’ve been mostly living apart since late May, so the week together, alone, was a little different but so very regenerating. Marriages are hard, maybe particularly so with independent types (and maybe by independent I actually mean stubborn, but we’ll leave it at independent for now). When he left today it hit me that I don’t show him or tell him that I appreciate him enough. I’m going to work on that. I’m not exaggerating when I say he’s been a rock, particularly in the last year and a half. I’m not sure I deserve any of it.

foggy road
foggy road

I mentioned it a few posts back but in late June I shot a roll of Portra 400 on a foggy morning, driving alone through the back roads around the cottage. The land looked really mystical and I hoped the shots would be even more foggy looking, but overall I really liked most of them.

dew, asparagus plant
dewy asparagus plant at edge of foggy orchard

Also, a few days ago I enrolled in a creative writing class for this fall. My minor in college was fiction writing and I’ve dabbled before and since, have always written poetry and essays and bits of this and that. It’ll be interesting to do it again in a class and get feedback and critique again. I miss that exchange. I’m excited and ready for it.

lines and fog
power lines, vines, fog

Tonight I shot two rolls of black and white film in the garden at Cherry Point Market, which smelled amazing and was teeming with buzzing bees and zipping hummingbirds. Black and white partly on a whim, but also because I’m committed to putting a dent in the shoebox full of film I have going on (don’t make me count. It’s a lot.) So tonight I shot a roll of TMax 100 and used a macro lens on my Minolta X-700 with a cheapy close-up filter on top of that for most shots. I also shot a roll of Fomapan 100, a film I haven’t tried yet, on the Mamiya C220, mostly getting really close to herbs and flowers and hoping upon hope I framed things the way I wanted but who knows? Close ups with that camera remain mind-boggling, but I keep trying.

barn in fog
red barn and fog
grounded steeple in fog
steeple, fog

Anyway, I kind of can’t believe it’s already late July. Storms came through the last few days and Lake Michigan just mowed down more of the bluff in front of our cottage. We (and by “we” I mean mostly the rock I mentioned earlier in this post) had to right and reset the beach stairs. The former post that marked the high water of the 1980s washed away, so we don’t have much bluff to work with here. The chicory and the queen anne’s lace are beginning their roadside takeover. The wild rose bush is at its peak. It’s high summer.

(You can see a few more shots from this roll here.)

gently, gently

I’m trying so hard to be gentle on myself and those around me. Really, I am. Watching my dog decline by the day is hard; so is trying to work in a place where everyone else is vacationing. I’m counting all my blessings, but I’m also allowing myself the feelings because how can I not? I have more responsibilities right now–to my dad, to my dog, to the people I love. I’m getting snippets of time for me, and I’m going to have to make the most of them right now. It all changes. This will change.

000097000034.jpg
new growth

I have shot a few rolls of film but am waiting until I have a few more before I send them to be developed. In the meantime, I’m writing when something pops into my head. Sometimes it’s just a phrase and sometimes it develops into something else. I’m painting with watercolors, abstracts and I’m drawing over top of them sometimes and learning how things work and making all the mistakes and loving it. There is a soul-stirring that happens when I look through a lens or dip a brush into water and then a color and touch it to paper. It’s healing and recharging and soothing and magic all at once. It’s therapeutic in such a profound way.

000097000028.jpg
new pine cones

My daughter spent a week and a half here at the cottage; her boyfriend came for half of that; my son and his girlfriend were here a few days; my husband was here; my dad was present when he wanted to be part of the fray and then did his own thing when he didn’t. We ate and drank and talked over each other and I reveled in all of it, except the decision-making parts (like meals) and soaked up the love. They’ve all gone and the quiet, well, I love quiet. But the transition is tough, and I miss my kids and husband.

000097000007.jpg
fern leaf from above
000097000004.jpg
fern leaf from side

It really only started to feel like summer a week ago. Lake Michigan warmed up enough to let people in (or, to let me in specifically; I’ve become a cold water wimp). The fourth happened, and I get more and more crusty on the whole fireworks thing. My dog is already distressed enough these days and watching her panic with the explosive onslaught of fireworks all up and down the beach was brutal. Things are blooming, I mean really blooming–pink, purple, yellow, white, clovers and fleabane and sweetpea and daisies and the tiger lilies, which I think might be a little late here this year. The cherries are getting ripe and I think blueberries will be soon, too.

Mid-June, with the two rolls of film from the last two posts, I also had developed a roll of Portra 400 ISO that I shot in my Minolta SRT-102, of plant life just in the driveway of the cottage. Ferns and evergreens mostly, but also this swirly cloud formation that I couldn’t get enough of. New growth, fresh greens.

The valley just behind our cottage and all our neighbor’s cottages is filled with evergreens. We planted some of these decades ago, just after our cottage was built. I believe the DNR either sold (cheaply) or gave out 100 tiny trees to whoever wanted them, I think in the mid-1970s. My brother and I and neighbors took these plants, dug little holes into the welcoming sand, and popped them in. They’re two or more stories tall now.

000097000032.jpg
fresh pine growth
000097000020.jpg
swirly clouds framing old tree

Anyway. It’s late as I write this. The dog has finally settled after doing her nightly pacing and panting. I’m writing this, and will set up the coffee for the morning and step out onto the deck to say goodnight to the half-moon, leave windows and doors open because it’s a warm night, and climb into bed.

herbs and flowers and life

I’m still enamored with the Mamiya C220 and intent on making the best photos with it that I can. One thing that plagues me is that you can get close–I mean really, really close–with this camera, but in doing so you have to frame just right because what you’re looking at is not what the film is going to capture because the lens you’re looking through is two inches higher than the lens that records the image. Roughly. I’m no expert on this, but I do know that when shooting something far away, this is not a problem. Up close, yeah, it can be funky.

chive blossoms
chive blossoms

But since it lets you get so close, that’s what I want to do. I’m not going to hunt for the tripod device that does this for you since I don’t often shoot with my tripod. So I’ll keep guessing and probably getting it wrong a lot. Fine with me.

A week or two ago now (I don’t know, the weeks are getting mushy), the evening I shot what ended up to be all red and hot pink cross-processed images, I also shot a roll of Kodak Portra 400 through the Mamiya C220, focusing on the new blooms of the herbs and the poppy flowers in Cherry Point’s garden. Some of the poppy images came out poorly framed, so, I have some work to do figuring that out. Again, fine.

poppies
poppies, not framed exactly how I wanted
poppy
poppy, still not exactly what I was going for

I had a day and night alone at the cottage and yesterday the fog blanketed the beach and the backroads, in some places so thick it was otherworldly. I know these backroads by foot, bike and car and even I was turned around in some spots. But it meant for seeing things differently, and I had the Mamiya loaded and with me when I went out for an errand and filled a roll of what I hope are foggy, ethereal landscapes evocative of yesterday’s still, damp, foggy mood.

Also yesterday, I cancelled an appointment. In desperation last week I scheduled my dog for, you know, the end of life (I can’t write the word–I just can’t). She seemed like she was going downhill so quickly and I was sure of it, resolved in my decision to not let her suffer. And then over the weekend she seemed to rally, enjoy things, even play a little. She’s still aging. She’s still suffering dementia and I know she’s in some pain, stiff, confused at times, and I know where this is going. But she’s not ready right now and I owe her whatever time she can enjoy. It’s hard and it’s life and that’s it.

Storms came through last night although I didn’t hear them. I woke up once to lightning and some low growls but that’s all I remember. Today the lake is loud and shouty although the wind is light. I used to love a rough lake, but now one rough day does so much damage to the fragile shore and dune–you can see the damage from just one day of wild waves. I’m hopeful that later summer will bring some stabilization of the shoreline, because that’s what usually happens, but water levels are expected to continue going up.

I know I have to not worry so much.

Anyway, in a week or two I should have a roll of Lomography Purple showing a bit of the dune decay, among other things, and that roll of Portra on the backroads in the fog. Today though, on a sunny and loud day on the beach where my dog is still here and snoring comfortably on the couch and I am drinking coffee and need to get to work, here are some photos of herbs and flowers, some not framed exactly as I expected, from Cherry Point Farm Market’s garden.

yarrow, maybe
maybe yarrow?
comfrey flowers
comfrey
lamb's ear
lamb’s ear
000097180001.jpg
thoughts? I don’t know what this one is…

extraterrestrial

I put a roll of poorly stored, expired (2006, I think?) Fujichrome (Sensia, I think?) film in my Minolta SRT-102 last week and shot it in the garden at Cherry Point Market, then mailed it to the lab and asked them to cross-process it. I wasn’t expecting much (see “poorly stored” and note my lack of actual attention to the film details).

Uh, I don’t know what happened here. Every image is either this crazy pink/purple or red. I don’t have the negatives back so I can’t tell if they really look like this or if the lab maybe had the settings wrong on the scanner, but these are the scans they sent me and I’m totally digging whatever it is that is happening here.

This sort of result is not for the perfectionist, I know. But I’m no perfectionist. I’m messy, bad at a lot of things, experimental, and I’m done censoring myself. I’m going to make crappy art. I’m going to explore. I’m not apologizing.

(Wait. I apologize if this post hurts your eyeballs. But that’s all I’m apologizing for.)

purple in Detroit

Detroit and metro on lomo purple
DESTROY, at the Lincoln Street Art Park

I’m a big fan of Lomography’s Lomochrome Purple film. I don’t know what it is about it, but the color shifts and the sometimes surprising outcomes just hit all the buttons for me. They keep fiddling with the chemistry of it each year, but I just know that every roll I’ve shot has made me oh so happy, even when things don’t come out quite right.

Detroit and metro on lomo purple
underpass at the art park

Last month I took a rare day off and my son’s girlfriend and I planned a day to hit MOCAD and the art supply store and whatever else we wished that day. We probably should have checked in advance, but the museum just happened to be closed for a private event. So we took the opportunity to hit two of Detroit’s outdoor art venues, the Lincoln Street Art Park and the Heidelberg Project, then ate at Sister Pie and had coffee (and bought two cakes; well, a half of two different cakes because they didn’t have a whole cake to buy) at the new Ochre Bakery. I’m linking to these things because if you find yourself in Detroit, maybe you ought to make a day of art and food and check these places out, too, because they are uniquely Detroit and definitely awesome.

Detroit and metro on lomo purple
cobblestone alley at the art park

I shot most of a roll of Lomochrome Purple that day and, as expected, the results made me swoony. Blues turn greens; greens turn purples; yellows are pinks. It’s weird and lovely.

Detroit and metro on lomo purple
Heidelberg Project

I have two rolls of it left from a batch I bought last summer, 35mm. I pre-ordered 5 rolls in 120mm that should arrive next month, and now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just go ahead and pre-order another 5 rolls of 35mm because geez. I really do love it. I want to see everything in purple. Is that too much to ask?

Detroit and metro on lomo purple
Heidelberg Project
Detroit and metro on lomo purple
daffodils, tulips, brick wall in my neighborhood
Detroit and metro on lomo purple
container in field
Detroit and metro on lomo purple
texture-y building and field

You can see more from this roll, and other purple and non-purple stuff, here.

digging the TLR

I think I’ve run at least six or eight rolls of film through the Mamiya C220 since it was gifted to me last fall. I’ve made multiple mistakes on most of these rolls, from double exposures (although those are almost always happy mistakes) to winding past exposures (I got only two or three exposures on my first roll) to not latching the back properly to… I don’t even know. If there’s a way to do this camera wrong, I think I’ve done it so far.

But, this last roll, Portra 160 shot throughout last week. I worked slowly. I forwarded carefully (oh so carefully). I metered each shot. I kept my hair out the way and made sure my fingers didn’t get in front of the bottom lens. I held the camera steady and didn’t breathe. I still guessed on compensating for the fact that you frame with one lens and the bottom lens is the one that takes the shot–a conundrum if you’re close to your subject, which I was in a few cases. But my guesses weren’t too bad on the close stuff.

It’s grown on me. There is a persistent sort of charm to this camera. It’s awkward to use but I’m getting there. The flipped image is confusing me a little less lately. My horizons are getting a bit straighter. The gentle click of the shutter is soothing. The dreamy image in the ground glass makes me want to look at everything through its eye.

If I’m slow and careful, the detail this camera lets me capture up close is magic. I can’t wait to practice with it on the dunes this summer as more wild things bloom.

Lake Michigan has my heart
silver-y Lake Michigan, and fingertip of storm front
Lake Michigan has my heart
driftwood
Lake Michigan has my heart
creamsicle sun before setting over Lake Michigan
May blooms and growth on the lakeshore
delicate-looking but hardy sand cress
May blooms and growth on the lakeshore
lily of the valley

I like my hair better in Texas

and other pointless observations

000059870002.jpg
Austin skyline, doubled

I don’t have a picture of my hair in Texas. I’m not much for selfies, and no one is clamoring to snap any photos of me. But, I was in Austin spending time with my daughter and soaking up the muggy heat and ignoring my own life for just a few days and I gotta say, my hair looked poofy and full and not flat and static-y and I just liked it.

My hip flexor, which I tore and wrote about last post (in March, no less–I’m trying not to ignore this blog but it seems that’s what I’ve done) is 95% better. Sometimes I feel it a little but I’m not babying it anymore. The black and white film class I took at community college just finished a week ago today. I’ve got a bunch of negatives to scan and I’m not thrilled for that because I can’t seem to make a decent scan come out of my scanner. Plus, scanning is a royal pain in the ass.

The cottage window is fixed and the house survived the winter; the beach did not. The bluff in front of our cottage is in ruins, disarray; the pipes and tires we drove into the shoreline as protective jetties more than 30 years ago are now exposed, our stairs no longer usable, a high cliff from the bluff to the water. We know how it goes, but it still stings and it still gives me nightmares. We can only hope for the levels of the Great Lakes to go down, but I’d prefer to plan than leave things to hope or chance. I want to know what’s next, even if I’m not going to like it. I do better with that.

Still, it’s not like the cottage is about to fall off the bluff and into the lake (I don’t say this jokingly as there are cottages on these lakes that have done just that). We’re not in danger yet. The view is still spectacular, the wildflowers and the deer and the foxes and the eagles will still make appearances, the sun will still rise and set and make for appreciative conversation. Summer warmth will kiss our bare skin and make us feel better about the world.

Austin and film soaked in McClary Bros. thai basil drinking vinegar

Yeah, say that three times fast.

We went to a park in an Austin suburb and walked a trail there that wound through scrub and cacti and wildflowers and it was hot and sunny and wonderful. The leaves had only just unfurled here in Michigan and the earliest spring flowers are in bloom, but in Texas it was lush and green and fields of yellow and red and orange wildflowers were riotous and plentiful. Anyway, I shot a roll of film mostly in that park with the last few shots around my daughter’s neighborhood and on the rooftop deck of her apartment building.

The film is Lomography 100 ISO color film. The thai basil drinking vinegar I soaked it in a few months ago offered a pretty subtle effect, with no great streaks or bubbles of color, but some gentle color shifts mainly. I’m good with it.

000059870012.jpg
thistle and butterfly
000059870013.jpg
000059870022.jpg
000059870030.jpg
000059870016.jpg
“don’t fall on that, mom…”
000059870008.jpg
fence and vine
000059870009.jpg
hotel St. Cecilia, which I’m hoping some day I can afford to stay a night in because it’s so charming
000059870006.jpg
path through the neighborhood
000059870005.jpg
arms like branches

Until next time, Texas. I might not come ’round in the summer because, well, you’re really hot, and I don’t mean that in a nice way. But you’ve grown on me, and I like to see my kid, so keep some beer in the cooler for me, will ya?