Sunday, September 30, 2012

Freedom to Read

September 30-October 6 is Banned Book Week. A week were bibliophiles celebrate the freedom to read.

 I am against censorship. Full stop.

There is just something wrong in the notion that some second party can take an artist's work and determine what is good and bad. Either you take the artist's full vision, or you just don't take it at all. Now, don't let this get confused with appropriateness. I am not saying that we should expose 4 year olds to 1984.  And I am not saying that every person has to read or like every single book ever written. But a lot of books get banned because they deal with issues that we just don't want to talk about. One of the things that I love about libraries it that they really are collectors of the human stories. On the shelves are stories of different times and places and cultures and human experiences. Are we really wanting to walk through through the stacks labeling each work, each human experience; good, bad, good, bad, bad, good?  Collection management is not easy and so not a joke. Appropriate, inappropriate, good, bad, are all subjective terms. Freedom of speech, the freedom to read means that there are going to be somethings that we disagree with, but we rather have disagreements than empty shelves.

Here are some favorite quotes from some favorite books that more often than not, find themselves on banned book lists:

1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  This is the book that I am most protective of, To Kill a Mockingbird is close second, but I usually don't have to defend Atticus as much as I do Holden. And honestly, I am a little  tired and just weary of having to defend this book, but it get so misquoted to me all the time. I actually heard someone say that they didn't like Catcher because Holden kills himself at the end (for the record Holden is very much alive at the end of the book). So here we go, for the 100th time:  This will be my favorite book until the day I die because it was the first book that taught me that books have the power to change lives.  I first read this book as an unhappy teenager living in a world that told me that conformity was better than happiness. And just reading that being an unhappy teenager isn't a failure of your humanity,  that there have been unhappy teenagers in the past asking the same questions I had, and they survived through those problems, was life changing. Everyone should have a book that changed their life, a book that seemed to find them when they needed it the most, a book that made you feel not so alone in the world. This is mine . 

“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.” 

2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I honestly don't have time for people who haven't read this book. 
“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” 

3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
“Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you's gwyne to git well agin.” 

4. Perks of Being a Wallflower byStephen Chbosky
“So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.” 

5. A Winkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
“Believing takes practice.” 

6. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.
“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie extoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.” 

7. The Giver by Lois Lowry.
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 

8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” 

9. 1984 by George Orwell
“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.” 

10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
“How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past?”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Breakfast @ Eastern Market, Part 76480

I know that I have said this before, but I am going to say it again: there are only two things that will get me up and dressed early on a Saturday; a road trip to the beach or breakfast at the Market Lunch at Eastern Market. The Market Lunch is not fancy be any means, breakfast is served on paper plates and red cafeteria trays. But the food is just so good, the staff, especially Tom the owner, are so genuinely nice, and it has held on to its local charm, even in our fine tourist heavy city.

{Edited to cut down on the whine and focus on the French Toast, where the focus should always be.}

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Best Nights

Are when friends randomly show up on American soil, and you eat too much Thai food, but the peanut sauce is just so good, and you discuss Dutch ovens and good kitchen knives in the aisles of Target, and DC code talk and everyone understands, and make plans  to go to Eastern Market before we all have to part ways again, and hope it isn't too early in the year  for apple cider syrup, and that compared to other far off lands, traffic in DC, even in Georgetown, isn't that bad.
Those are the best nights.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

National Voter Registration Day!

The US Election is only 41 days away. US citizens, please make sure you are registered to vote in your current area.  And remember local, state, and congressional races are just as important as the race for the White House,  we're a republic, yo. 

Plus, all the cool kids are doing it. 

All pictures are from my Facebook stream via all these fine people's pages: Trampled by Turtles, Dr. Dog, The Head and the Heart, Death Cub for Cutie, Tweeeedy (Wilco), Spirit Family Reunion.

Song of the Week: Bruce Springsteen

I have been  listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska a lot lately. I feel this is almost a confession, since it isn’t exactly an album full of songs about unicorns and rainbows, but is it probably my favorite of his catalog.  There is just something hauntingly beautiful about this  album and it also showcases Bruce’s genius of a storyteller.  In my honest opinion, which is always debatable, what makes American music, or at least good American music, great , is the blues. And I want to say, with the possibility of sounding overzealous, that blues is largely and maybe even uniquely, an American tradition. When songs are based on a blues tradition, whether it is literally based on the 12 bar blues, or at least in this feeling of being on the down and out, standing at a hard walked crossroads, that is music that can last. Now, there is true blue Blues, but this tradition is also in the foundation of jazz, rock n’roll, country music, punk rock, folk, bluegrass, let’s even throw in rap.  When you build up from the Blues, that is music that has the potential to transcend generations and genres.   When you take out the blues, and make the music too poppy or too complicated, that is just a music trend, and might be popular for a while, but will eventually end up in the discount bin.

So, what I am trying to say with all this, Bruce Springsteen makes good American music. 

In related news: A new tribute to this great album is currently out:
Long Distance Salvation: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. It features some Gentlewoman of the Road endorsed bands: Spirit Family Reunion, Joe Pug, Trampled by Turtles, and Adam Arcuragi, among others. You can buy it here, for $5, well worth its metadata weight. And 100% of proceeds go to Project Bread, which is dedicated to alleviating, preventing and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts. 

In other music news:
Mumford & Sons new album, Babel is released in the US today, finally . “I Will Wait,” is currently being overplayed on the radio here in DC, which isn't always a good thing. 

Chance McCoy’s  (of Old Crow Medicine Show) debut solo album is currently up for free (or donation) on Noisetrade. If you like traditional Appalachian music, especially if you can correctly pronounce Appalachia (App-uh-LATCH-uh, NOT, App-uh-LAY-shuh) you should check this out, heavy on the fiddle, heavy of the foot stomping. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday Manifesto: Be Outside

Here is the start of a project to make the worst day of the week, a little less worst.

After taking care of normal Sunday obligations I knew I want to spend the rest of the day outside, the weather was glorious.  The fallback outdoor quest in DC is always the monuments, to walk in the shadows of greatness. I attempted to catch a train heading into the city, but after 25 minutes of waiting and no trains, I decided to just drive into the city. I hate driving in DC. I can, I just hate it.  I figure that a Sunday wouldn’t be as bad as a work day. So, so wrong. As soon as I approached the National Mall, I remembered that it was National Book Festival Weekend, and the once one day festival was now two days.  There was not only no place to park, main streets, side  streets, but  there were also mobs of people everywhere. People, who not only slowly strolled through the crosswalks, but also looked at you like your desire to turn left (thus turning through the crosswalk) was the strangest and silliest thing ever.  With my little heart filling with rage towards these people and their stupid book bags, I admitted defeat and headed back home. But when my turn off came, I just kept driving. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to go back to the awkwardness of my house to sit quietly in my room until it was dark enough to go to sleep. I just couldn’t.  So I drove and drove and drove and ended up at Manassas National Battlefield.

Now, in Virginia, you are almost always in a Civil War Battlefield. And it is important to remember that Virginia was a Confederate state. I have visited Civil War sites both north and south of the Mason-Dixon and the terminology is surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, different.  Because I was within VA borders,  the battleground I visited is always and only referred to as Manassas. If I was up North, the battles fought here would be known as the battles at Bull Run. Because many battles were fought in open fields, routinely, the Confederacy favored naming battles after the nearest town, hence Manassas, while the Union favored naming battles after geographic landmarks, hence, Bull Run, which  is a tributary steam of the Potomac River, that flows through the land.  

If you arrive at Manassas before 5pm then you should go inside the Visitor’s Center and pay the 3 dollars entrance fee, talk to the knowledgeable and charming National Park staff, use the restrooms, and watch the orientation film. The buildings, including the Visitor Center and historical buildings are all closed and locked at 5pm, but the park is open until sunset, thus you don’t have to pay the entrance fee after 5pm, but you should really support the NPS.

I walked the “Henry Hill Walking Tour” which is about a mile loop around the land with educational signs along the way, mostly telling the story of the First Battle of Manassas (July1961), which is considered the first major land battle of the US Civil War.

I can’t figure out if it is ironic or poetic that former battlefields seem to become some of the most peaceful places. As I walked, I thought about how war becomes peace. In one day, 151 years ago, 5,000 people were killed on this ground, and now it is so calm and beautiful. How does that happen? How does the land, the physical world, heal from such trauma?   And then I let  my mind wander, which what usually happens in the outdoors,  and think about how does internal conflict become peace. The wars that don’t shake the ground or echo with gunshot;  sickness, grief, addiction, the daily battles with our demons. Can those lives become beautiful and calm? Hopefully that healing doesn’t take 151 years.  But it probably still takes time.  But these battlegrounds also serve as reminders and witnesses that battles, win or lose, do end. War does end. And peace is possible, even after all this.  BOOM. Put that on a Hallmark card.

And thus was my Sunday School for the day.

And now, can we discuss the little girl that had a bunny on leash?  Ok, keep rabbits as pet, whatever, but to bring one on a road trip and put it on a leash? I don’t get this.  

All pictures were taken with my little Canon point and shoot and except for a little cropping on 2 of them , they are completely unedited. It was that gorgeous of a day. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Week in Review

*Missouri 2013! Don’t know exactly when or where or how, but I do know it is right.  

*Our power went out for about 8 hours the other night, the same exact time that all my underthings were in the washer. Awesome. But sometimes you have to give Mother Nature props (don’t fight her, she always wins and has horrible sportsmanship about it too), and sit in the dark and eat  tomato soup by the glow of Arrested Development on your laptop.
If I was stuck on a deserted island, that had electricity ‘cause most deserted island do, and I could watch this show and M.A.S.H, I think I would be totally be ok with my life.

*Since I lost my Kate Middleton fellow fashion critiquer (and NCIS interrupter, seriously I have no idea what is happening on that show) to the Mountain West, does anyone want to talk about the Duchess’s outfits for the latest leg of the Jubilee tour?  My favorite is this one.

*My Pie Day banner came crashing down on me in my sleep this week. I feel a little betrayed. I can’t keep anything up on that wall. Let’s blame it on a haunting, but only that wall. Give me a week or two and I’ll come up with a backstory.
*It is a beautiful day when you stop asking “Why don’t they accept me,” and start being down on your knees grateful that you aren’t like them and realize their non-acceptance is actually a nod towards your humanity and the fact that you, indeed, have a soul.   

*I finally got my plane tickets for Italy this week, so it is for reals. I find it funny and fabulous that  everyone I ask for recommendations and what I should do, they, to the person, always start out with the food and where and what I should eat. Sure, there are museums and the Pope and monuments to civilization, but OMG the food.  

*For those keeping track, the pie combination of the week is vanilla bean + cardamom + peach.

*This seeing eye dog and his loyality and love towards his owner on the Metro melted my heart this week:

*My mom made me a cd. She’s quite adorable.

*Thanks Pandora for reminding me that even though most parts of high school were no good, the music was still awesome:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Treasures in Close Up

This week for date night with Clive, I pulled out some of my favorite things to work on close up shooting:
My dad's army dog tags 

My grandfather's rosary 

My great aunt's compact

"Vote" bracelet that I wore when I did voter outreach during the 2004 Election.

Service. Faith. Beauty. Duty.

And then there was this:
It is my name in a printer's block, so I can always see my name in print. Clearly not the best shot of the day. 

Obviously, I'm still learning to use my camera and all the settings and buttons. I'm still learning about lighting, and auto focus and manual focus and awkwardly standing on a chair to get different angles.  But  learning means not giving up because my first try wasn't perfect. Learning is being ok with fuzzy pictures and flipping through the manual to look up the same thing over and over again. Learning means many more date nights with Clive. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Song of the Week: Noah Gundersen

I swear this week I tried to find something different. I scrolled through my iTunes library, I skimmed favorite music sites. I looked for something with horns, or something poppy,  or something loud, or anything less folky than all the other songs I post. I looked and listened, and while I found many a fine songs, not any that was more than just fine.  But as I sit here, under a open window, way past the bedtime for any responsibly adult,  waiting for storms to roll in and praying for tomorrow, or today, to wait just a little longer to start, I find myself coming back to this song over and and over again. Back to this guy and back to this guitar: "Moss on a Rolling Stone" by Noah Gundersen.
I believe home is a place that I will get someday

"Moss on a Rolling Stone" can be found on his album, Brand New World. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Mix Tape

I am pretty sure that my Friday was better than yours.

It involved homemade peach pie and talking about music, two of my most favorite things. Two friends and I, because good things happen in 3s, decided it was high time for us to do some music swapping. Now, don't think that this was some black market, copyright infringement, illegal downloading thing, just some music loving. Think of it as missionary work. You need these songs in your life. Hallelujah and Amen.  The main rule of this music swap was that we were suppose to only bring 10 songs. Some of us followed this rule a little better than others. But I loved the challenge of picking just 10 songs from the thousands.  This week as I started to work on my playlist,  I first was looking for the most obscure songs I could find, my music snob membership dues were coming up for renewal. But as I was going on about it, none of the songs that I picked felt right. They weren't telling the story that I wanted to share. So I picked 10 songs that are by no means obscure or really eclectic in nature, but they truly do tell the story of my life right now.

After the pie plates were cleared away, we each pulled out our mixes. Instead of just handing them over, we told the stories behind why we picked each song, how our tastes in music have changed through the years, and took in the reality that music does have the power to change and move and bring people together. Sometimes we think of culture as something you just do. You go see a famous painting at a museum, or you go to the ballet and you are cultured. But I wonder if we don't realize that culture really does have the power to change us, to save us.

I recently read that the director Cameron Crowe  has made a mix tape every single month since 1978 of the songs that were his personal soundtrack for that month. I don't know if he still does it, but I love the idea of journaling your life through music, even if it is words written by others.  So here is my little mix. It is very heavy on the folky; a little sad, but not too sad, a little banjo, but not too much, side. But that is kinda how I roll these days.

(All links are to You Tube versions of the songs, because I apparently am not fancy or patient enough to figure out to post a playlist via Spotify or the like. The versions that were on my actual mixed cd may have been slightly different versions. I don't have any connection, love or hate towards any of the video sources.)

1. Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise--The Avett Brothers
Favorite line: Decide what to be, and then go be it.
This song was the very first Song of the Week on this blog, and truly is a life changing song for me.
Band website

2. Rivers and Roads--The Head and the Heart
Favorite line: If you don't know what to make of this, then we will not relate.
This song is all about change, friends moving away, your family living in a different state. Sound familiar? I love Charity's voice on this track, especially at the end.
Band website

3. Land of Dreams--Langhorne Slim
Favorite line: Everyone becomes invisible in the Land of Dreams.
I've talked about Mr. Slim several times, but he truly is writing a lot of the songs of my life right now.  Plus, he wears hats.
Band website

4.  Rambling Man--Laura Marling
Favorite line: Let it always be known, that I was who I am.
Laura Marling is such a gifted songwriter. The end. 
Band website

5. Elouise-- the Lumineers
Favorite line: I'm still fighting for you.
Even though their debut album was just released this year, The Lumineers have been around awhile, and used to release a song to two on their website every now. Elousie was one of those songs; it has been a favorite every since I heard it.
Band website

6. Feel the Tide--Mumford and Sons.
Favorite line: Just hold onto what we know is true.
It feels almost cliched putting a M&S song on a play list. I have talked about them so much that I know people have stopped listening. But it was through a passed play list that I first heard about them, so it is like (i hope) good music karma to keep passing their songs around. And this is a favorite song of theirs, especially for that favorite line  up there.  I have learned, especially recently, that to remain sane in this world, you have to hold on Truths, with a capital T,  and just let the other things go.
Band website

7. Working Titles--Damien Jurado
Favorite line: Write me song I can sing in my sleep.
Oh, that voice. Weak knees. The moral of the story, or a guess the song in this case, is don't date songwriters. Or  I guess, don't break up with songwriters?
Band website

8. Hello My Old Heart--The Oh Hello's
Favorite line: Hello my old heart, how have you been? Are you still there in my chest?
The Oh Hello's are made up of siblings Maggie and Tyler Heath. To me, that deserve a cookie right there. I love my sister and all, but to go into a career venture together? Sanity says no.  My little broken, and then mended heart could of written this song. Love is such a complicated thing. 
Band website

9. Take 'Em Away--Old Crow Medicine Show
Favorite line: My heart is broken 'cause my spirit's not free.
I am so happy that Critter (the voice and guitar you hear on this favorite tune) is back playing with the band. I am also glad there a banjo/guitar player named Critter in the world.
Band website

10. Take Care of All My Children (Tom Waits cover)--The Changing Colors.
Favorite Line: The entire song is my favorite line. 
I know, I know, a Tom Waits COVER? Who am I anymore? I do love the original version of this song, dearly, but there is just something about this cover that tugs at my heart.
Band website

To see the other excellent playlists shared that night, visit Miranda's blog. I gots me some friends with great taste.

Wow, that is a lot of linking. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When I Can't Sleep, I Think About Important Things

When I delete something and the computer asks me if I want to send it to the recycling bin, it presumes that I want it to be recycled. No, I don’t want it to be turned into something else, I want it burned to ashes, and scattered over the sea, or shot into space. I want it destroyed and never to be spoken of again. Tree hugging computer.

Dear food bloggers: too soon, too soon with all the pumpkin recipes! I get it. September. Fall. Crisp air. But you are make me anxious. And one or two really good recipes are better than 100 trying to put pumpkin in every edible thing possible, recipes. Also, I am not ready to think about pumpkin carving,  I mean, how do I out do last year? So much pressure.

Every time I do something really good at work, my first thought usually is, “Oh, I deserve a cookie for that.” But then I remember that am I not five years old.

People are already asking me about New Year’s Eve plans. I do not even know what this is.

I know that technology makes it easy for bands target their audience more, but today I got an email (mailing list, so old school) saying they (the band) will be seeing me in October. Really?  I didn’t know. This is exciting.  What should I wear?  I also think it is adorable that they think that I will drive to North Carolina to see them in concert. Or maybe their zip code thing is a little off.  But wait. They drive to see me, maybe in a van even. It is only fair that sometimes I drive across state lines to see them. And considering what band sent me this email, yeah, I probably will be seeing them in October (not in NC though), and holy cow, try not to embarrass myself.

I work with a lot of healthy, run 13 miles before work, and eat oatmeal more than once a day people. I know they judge me with their eyes when I eat a piece of cake at staff parties, but hey, free cake. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My DC: My Commute

I am one of the commuting huddled masses. I wish I had more pride in that statement, but it is what it is. The DC Metro system is perfectly fine for tourists or people who are in the city for the day, because, bless their hearts, they don't know better. If you ride it every day it can be pretty soul crushing; it's expensive, it's unreliable, and it's the opposite of user friendly. But I choose to live across the bridge, so I ride the train in every day and there are moments among the hot cars, broken escalators, delays, and people talking obnoxiously loud on their mobiles, that provide enough saving grace to make it bearable. 

View of "light" traffic from a pedestrian bridge 

 Parking garage

What people on the Metro are reading 

 Disheveled Mohawk on the Orange Line

Not my train 

Street corner 

DC street poetry 

 There is something that I just love about the scaffolding around the Supreme Court. I thinking it is all the lines.

 It may be just me, but some of the crosswalks seem way wide

 This was an accidental shot as I as crossing the street one day, but I love shadows

 Man with a case on a platform

 Opening elevator doors

Union Station

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Song of the Week: Old Man Luedecke

I know what you guys are thinking.

You're thinking that you need more banjo music that references classic American literature.

I know you so well, and I am here to help.

Behold: Old Man Luedecke and his song, "Tender is the Night:"
A little banjo and some good ol' F. Scott Fitzgerald for you on this Tuesday.

You're welcome.

You can pay what you want for this song and 4 others by very talented and quite Canadian Mr. Luedecke via Noisetrade. Leave him a tip if you can. I am pretty sure that when you tip good artists for their good music mosquitoes perish or auto-tuned artists grow silent or something.

His full album will come out in October in Canada and in November in these United States.

And in other banjo news : the new Avett Brothers album, The Carpenter, hits the world today, TODAY!

I Never Know What To Say On 9/11

But I usually find myself thinking about these words:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sounds pretty hippy dippy, I know. And it is true that I was a little removed from 9/11. I wasn't living in NYC, or even here in DC in 2001. I didn't lose a loved one. And those who did are allowed whatever feelings and thoughts that sting and burn on this anniversary.

But I have lived in the shadow of 9/11 for that last 11 years, we all have. America changed that day, we changed. What I am reminded the most of when this solemn day rolls around each year is though fear and hate may appease the angry mob for a little time, they have no foundation for lasting change. We can build walls and use words like "us" and "them" and they may protect us for awhile, but they will always, always, crumble.  And I don't mean to gloss over the fact that there are bad people during bad things in the world and I do, 100%, believe in justice and in law and order (and not just the tv show), and protection of our homeland and the safety of our citizens.

 But, I think the true test of 9/11 is not if we can kill our enemies, it is that we don't become our enemies. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Art and Music.

In acknowledgement that summer is really almost over, I spent the weekend working on framing the new music art that I collected over the summer.  In a perfect world, I try to rotate my wall art every season. I like the physical reminders of change and new starts that clean walls bring. And since my living space is quite small, I have more frames and pieces than I do walls, so equal time for all means a lot of rotation.

As I was laying out the pieces I wanted to display, I had to come to terms with the idea that I may not really have an eye for collages. I swapped pieces, and changed places and looked and looked and maybe squinted a bit, and I am still working on the exact placement and how they should all come together and be displayed.  Which in reality means they all might be leaning up against my bookcase for a little while longer, but I am really happy how each piece turned out.  Each reminds me that in the midst of maybe the worst and hardest year of my life, there were happy times, moments that my heart didn't hurt so much.  Some little peeks:

If you have been to a par-tay at my house you may recognize this chalkboard. But instead of drink or pie options I wrote lyrics from favorite songs of bands I saw this year. It's a little twee, but I love it all the same.

 I am also trying to find a place in my house to take good pictures of the pieces. I literally carried them all around the house this weekend looking for good lighting so that the awesome frames could be seen as well as the things in the frames. The kitchen table, the laundry room floor (where the chalkboard is laying up above), the dinning room table,  the floor in my room,  my bedroom wall, the living room. Na dah.  So stay tune for maybe a photo shoot outside with Clive on a slightly overcast but still sunny day. Or just come over and see them all leaning up against my bookcase.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking Pictures

My dad was in the army for most of his life. In the late 1960s/early 1970s he was stationed in Europe. He really never talked too much about this part of this life. I think a major part of it was just my dad's personality. He never sought for the spotlight, he did his job and his duty, honestly and well, but without any pomp.  And there is the whole national security thing about being in military, loose lips sink ships and all.

 I’ve been reading his journals from his early army days, and while he was always respectful and proud of his service and duty to his nation, sometimes the army and the drills and the threat of war and real war was just hard to take all in. And in all this, and maybe because of all this, he bought a camera while living in the lands across the sea. This camera, to be exact:

Nikkormat became Nikon in 1988 , just so you know that it is real camera.

And he took this camera everywhere:

Labels from inside the slide tins

And all these trips to everywhere resulted in hundreds of slides:

And several dozen rolls of "Made in Germany," film
I like to think that this camera opened up the big wide world to small town boy from Oregon. I like to think this camera gave him a little bit of sanity and peace and a creative outlet, and a little knowledge and self-confidence that his story is important.

Until last week, I never knew about these slides. I wish, wish, wish, that I could hear the stories behind them all. Why didn’t my dad ever pull them out and show us? There is a little bit of sadness in the loss of the stories behind each image, but I’m glad we have them; captured little moments of my dad’s life.  

 I think that sometimes it takes everything to just get through life, that when we finish a chapter of our life we move ahead, looking forward and forget, or sometimes try to forget on purpose, those experiences that made us stretch and grow, sometimes against our wills, and often way more than we wanted. Phew, glad that is over.  We get older, we add experiences and chapters to our books of life and just get further away from our origin stories. We move on with our lives, we move our homes; memories and stories and slides get packed up and placed on shelves in the basement. They aren’t unloved, they were kept after all, these slides were moved across the country, stored in at least half a dozen apartments and houses, but for the past little while, they lived in the shadow of ongoing storylines and current plot twists.

Looking at the slides through the retro-awesome viewer

Somewhere along the way the camera broke and maybe by that time, parts where too hard to find or expensive to purchase. Although I never knew about the slides,  I do always remember seeing this camera laying around our house, a little witness of past adventures.  And now it sits in my house, right next to Clive, as inspiration for some new adventures.