Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Monday, November 16, 2015

Of Rags and Riches

My dad, a Boston attorney was generous to a fault.  When I say that, I mean his fault was not that he was too generous, but that when he was, his taste could be, well, call it…questionable.  I can’t tell you how many times he bought my mother gifts of clothing she returned, but it was such a regular occurrence I used to wish just once, she’d keep something he bought for her.  His taste wasn't all bad. Nowadays, I suspect the refusal to accept anything he bought may have been some kind of power trip, but it also could have been because he did a lot of his shopping at Filene's Basement, the liquidator for the now defunct department store.  If you never knew the place, it worked like this.  An item arrived on the floor with the tag marked at a reduced price, as well as scheduled dates for future markdowns. So, if you were daring enough to risk someone else scooping an item you coveted, you could wait it out and potentially end up with an awesome deal.  But the truth of it was, a lot of the things that hung around until the final markdown were of questionable colors or patterns, and often, my dad cut through The Basement on his way to the train station for the trip home.

Anyway, the Christmas of my senior year in college, I opened up a box holding a wool skirt, and let’s just say, I knew who bought it and where.  The quality of the material was excellent, the fit, slightly irregular but passable, the color, well, blocks of grey, mustard, and rust.  And back then folks, I was a blue, pink, and teal sort of girl.  But I was also approaching the end of my schooling, with potential job interviews pending, and my wardrobe consisted of jeans and corduroys.  So, as ugly as it appeared to me, I wore the thing. Probably the reason I remember it so vividly, was that every time I put it on I wished it looked better. But I knew who bought it and I wanted to like it.  Therefore, I pretended I did.

A long time later, years after I stopped forcing myself to put it on, that skirt made it to the donation pile.  But this time of year, when I look out to the land around me, I always remember it.  I have no doubt the designer of that piece of apparel took inspiration from rusty oak leaves skittering up the street, from the swallows lined up on the telephone wire, the yellow leaf-rags refusing to lift from the stalwart ash.  I imagine it rumpled across the land when I see the colors of November, the granite walls we see again, now the leaves have dropped, in the feather-wisp of smoke-colored clouds smudging the late afternoon sky. I didn’t like that skirt, and even now, I'm guessing the inspiration didn't translate.  But I remember it and wonder, if I could pull it out of my closet again, whether now, I'd recognize the subtle beauty my dad must have seen all those years ago when he bought it for a steal.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Skill of Seeing

It's IWSG Wednesday.  To read more posts from writers helping writers, click here.

I went to a book reading two weeks ago and one of the featured authors was Annie Weatherwax, whose first novel All We Had, was listed by Opra, and is currently being adapted for a film directed by Katie Holmes, who will also star in it. (Gulp, gulp, gulp!)  Annie is an inspiring speaker, and I started this post by trying to tell you her whole story, when I discovered that Annie tells it best herself, here.

Please click on the link, but if you don’t have time, then at least take these words away with you:
…But the true job of a writer is to elicit an image—a rich and expansive picture of the world written on the page. In many ways, writing is a visual art because we see not only with our eyes, but also, and sometimes more powerfully, with our imaginations. The craft of writing for me has less to do with the study of literature, or even with writing proficiency, and much more to do with the disciplined skill of seeing... Annie Weatherwax.
Suddenly, I think I have a clue why taking pictures is so important to me...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Library Tutorial

I packed a notebook, a magazine, a novel and an I-Pad and went to the library Friday afternoon.  I love our library.  It used to be an elementary school, and has soothing green walls and huge Palladian windows to let in tons of natural light.  Every once in a while I treat myself and camp out there for hours.  This time I snagged a table in a sunny spot and decided to write in my notebook about whatever popped in my head until I’d completed three pages.
By page two, I found myself writing about photography.  Earlier in the day, I’d taken my camera off its trusty auto setting, and tried a few of shots of Meeting Pond before running into work.  A few came out okay, a couple came out too dark, but in that three minute burst I learned a little more about my camera.  

 As I’ve said before, I’m not schooled in the technology behind taking pictures, and there, in the library, I decided it was time to learn more.  Out came the I-pad, and I turned to a photography site I discovered last week, and gave myself a lesson in apertures, depth of field and film speed.  I wrote everything down I learned, (bringing me to three pages) and then, since I had my camera in the car, I went out to test what I absorbed. 

My favorite cemetery/photography spot is only a few streets away which is where I discovered that while  my research tutored me in basic principles and settings behind taking a good picture, I have a long way to go to understand the exact buttons to push to make my particular camera perform.  Time to get out the owner’s manual, but I liked this shot.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Down the street from me, there’s a Halloween display featuring spider webs and grave stones.  It’s cute and it makes me smile, but I also shake my head because I don’t find graveyards scary at all. They’re pretty, they’re peaceful, and in some cases they remind of those we love who are gone.  Our town has three cemeteries, and I prefer one in particular because of the way it's situated overlooking a waterway we call Little Harbor.  On a foggy day last week, I went there with a specific plan to stand at the shore there to take a picture of a dock that juts out into the water from and adjoining property. I’ve photographed it before, and this time, I was hoping to get it with a background of fall color. Just as I arrived, the sun broke through though, and there was a powerboat tied up to the dock which would have ruined the shot anyway.

 Here's what I found instead.


Monday, October 19, 2015

My Autumn Harvest

Although I post a lot of photos on my blog, I’m not really a photographer, or a trained one, anyway. In my mind the real photographers appear here  and here, and a lot of them post here. 

 I just take advantage of the scenery around me, and try to record it, click, click, click.  Between digital cameras and cell phones, we’re all photographers these days.  I download my pictures to the computer, tweak them a little using Picasa, and voila.   

So anyway, Yankee Magazine, which I’ve read forever, holds an annual photography contest.  This year, it's called My New England and no, I'm not submitting a photo.  But the instructions have me looking around with a different eye, trying to see what makes my area special.  Fall color is late this year, and here by the shore, we don’t get much of it anyway.  But still, there’s a softness to the light as the earth slows down, gets ready for its big sleep.  Pumpkins appear on porches, the sun sets earlier leaving swaths of pink across the horizon. Farmers markets finish their seasons.  Cottages sit deserted on empty beaches. 

Last week I went out with Yankee's instructions in mind, and tried to capture some of it. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wading through Molasses - IWSG October 2015

This is my October contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers' Support Group.  There’s a lot going on with IWSG this month.  To read other participants, click here.  Also, The IWSG Anthology Contest is open until November 1. For details, click here.  Last but not least, be sure to check in with this month's co-hosts:

Stephanie Faris     

I'm going to be dead honest.  Writing has felt like slogging through cold syrup for me lately and I have to force myself to sit down.  If I get 200 words written, it’s a victory.  If I get 500 words, I’m ecstatic. Monday blog posts roll around and I don’t know what to write.  Even as I type this post, I’m trying to formulate words, something inspiring, something to help those who read it.  But I don’t have anything.  No caveats, not even a platitude.  Pretty much dead air.

To give myself a jumping off point, I opened Stephen King’s, On Writing, and read a descriptive paragraph about his childhood tonsillitis. Didn’t help.  I paged through Writingdown the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg.  That book delivered creative prompts back when I was a unemployed, newbie writer scribbling from my seat in a downtown bakery.  It didn’t work with this.  Next, I glanced through Write to be Published, by Nicola Morgan, and Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas. All these books stirred me at one time or another, but for the moment, it all seemed like a lot of bla, bla, bla. 

Finally, I opened Walking in this World, by Julia Cameron, and found this quote by Publilius Syrus. 

“It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity.” 

It reminded me.  The path is long, and sometimes it does feel like slurping barefoot through a mud bog.  But, success is about wanting excellence bad enough to take the time required to cultivate it.

I might be a hundred by the time I get there, but God help me.  I'll keep slogging.