Thursday, December 29, 2011

What have we done?

For whatever reason today I ran across an article about Milton Rogovin dying at 101 years old back in January. It very well may have been something about all the famous people who had died in 2011, I don't remember and I can't find the article now to verify. It probably got recycled about five minutes after I finished reading the paper since I was trying to get things organized this morning. Anyway, when I saw the name I knew I was familiar with his work as a photographer but I couldn't remember exactly what he did. So I looked him up to be reminded.

Once I saw his pictures I remembered who he was and that he did mainly social documentary photos, a lot of which were done in and around the northeast. Mostly he focused on what he referred to as the "forgotten ones", the working poor. He had different series of photos of workers from the various steel plants, foundries, pottery factories and even Chevrolet. Also included were companies that produced furnaces, electrical items and made molds. There was even a series of photos of the miners in Appalachia. Tough, labor intensive jobs with less than ideal working conditions to be sure. I did a quick search on the companies that were listed and, not surprisingly, most of them are no longer in business.

The thing that struck me the most as I scrolled though his series of pictures is that the photos showed people who were poor, but they didn't show people who were broken. They showed people who were productive and that were taking care of their families. They showed people who were contributing to their community and society as a whole. They showed people who looked like they had pride in themselves.

And then I look at the groups of people willing to occupy town squares and parks for months on end to complain that they don't have enough and someone else has more. That they shouldn't be responsible for paying back money they borrowed to get an education and that they should be allowed to live in a house without paying for it. And I wonder how we could let ourselves as a country get to where we are at today just thirty years after most of those photos were taken. And I worry about what kind of country and conditions my son will have to endure in another thirty years. I won't pretend to know the answers, but I will say that nothing is truly free and anything worth having is worth working for. And anyone in a position of power that says otherwise is flat out lying to you.

If you are interested in seeing some of Milton Rogovin's photography you can go to his site here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I'm waiting for delivery of one more item for Mister C, but otherwise, I've been done with my Christmas preparations for a few days now. Lucky for me, Mamoo has graciously offered to have the family celebration at her house this year so I don't even have to worry about cooking. So the next few days are panning out to be somewhat relaxing. We are flying up to Fargo on Saturday to spend a few days with Mister C's side of the family but I'm not even really concerned about that because those gifts got wrapped and sent almost two weeks ago. Woo-hoo! Look at me go! Which brings me to the title of this post.

So for years I've had a love/hate relationship with to-do lists. On the one hand I think they serve a purpose in keeping me on track with what needs to get done. On the other hand, I struggle with the whole negative side of seeing everything I didn't get done still sitting on the list, taunting me. Telling me I'm such a loser because look, I can't even wrap up a list of things to do. I'm not as bad as SOME people (cough*Mister C*cough) that used to rewrite their list every night, removing the things they had done. I think that's ten times more negative than having a list with at least some things crossed off. To wake up every day with a long list of shit to do, I'm just not wired that way.

So I decided I needed a new way of doing things. And thus was born the "Ta-Da List". Instead of a list of things I need to do, I only jot down the things I actually did today. It's really quite simple and so much more positive. I wake up to a blank sheet of (iPhone notes) paper and I get to fill it with things as I accomplish them. At the end of day, instead of a crossed out sheet of paper (or worse, a brand new list of things to do) I can look over my list and see what I accomplished. The genius of this method is that I want to fill the blank page. So if I've gone a ways through my day and it's looking a little sparse, I actively look for something to do. There's always something that could use cleaning or doing around here.

So, is everything on my Ta-Da List a huge accomplishment? Nope. And that's okay. Because not everything on a traditional to-do list is either. And sometimes you just need to take credit for doing something, even if it was totally simple. So, sent out all of the Christmas cards? Ta-Da! Wiped out the microwave and took out the composting? Ta-Da! Dropped off books and videos to two different libaries? Ta-Da! (And I didn't even have to get out of the car for that one.) Wrote a post about my new Ta-Da List? Ta. Da.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finally getting into the spirit

Well I finished writing my annual Christmas letter that never gets put inside a card and sent. Seriously, I've written one every year for almost fifteen years and I honestly can't remember if a single one has ever been sent out. Ah well, at least I have a record of them. Some day I'll put together a book entitled "Letters I Never Sent" and it will be a best seller. Don't steal that idea, I'll be watching you.

We also finally managed to decorate our tree. You know, the one that's been in the house for a week now. Master J and I managed to get lights on it the morning after we brought it in but we wasted a bunch of time putting lights on and then taking them off when half the string died after it was already on the tree. It happened on three strings out of three. At least the three strings with shotgun shells as covers worked beautifully on the first try. Yeah, about that little bit of Christmas cheer. Remind me not to send Master J shopping at Cabela's with Mister C any time near the holidays. Shotgun shell lights indeed.

And last, but certainly not least, I got all of the gifts wrapped for Mister C's side of the family. He boxed them up and slapped shipping labels on them all for me. He even put them in the back of my truck. All I need to do is get them to the UPS store and get a receipt and that little worry is off my schedule.

So now the only things left to do are to pick up a gift for the thirteen year old girl whose tag I pulled from our church's angel tree this morning and get a few more small items for Mister C and Master J and I think I'm done. Well, that and pull the box of Christmas cards out so they can sit on my kitchen counter for the next month waiting for me to put the Christmas letter inside before I give up and pack them back into the garage for yet another year. If I ever do get around to sending them out they'll be considered vintage cards.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Last of My Film Project

So this will be the last of the pictures that I printed out this semester. These four were for my final project. I ended up focusing on people who were characters. People who drew me in for one reason or another. People who you know just by meeting them that there's a story. I didn't always get their stories, but you just know they have a good one.

This gal was at an event where Music Man played. When I originally saw her, she was also wearing white cats-eye glasses. I think she set them down somewhere by the time I asked if I could take her picture.

This is Ernie Lizarraga. He was one of ten motorcyclists, on eight bikes, that were run over by a dump truck driven by a guy with meth in his system. Four people died, five were injured, he was the one with the worst injuries. I didn't know this when I saw him and two other guys with bikes in his driveway. I just saw someone I wanted to photograph. I got to meet his wife Lorri today when I dropped off the original print at their house. In the short time I spoke Ernie and his friends and family, over the two meetings, it's pretty obvious they're a tight group. I'm glad I stopped off to grab a few pictures.

This is Candi and while she is sweet, she's also a tough lady that can get things done. She was/is a client of mine, but she's also become a friend. I look forward to her moving to town so I can meet with her more than once every six months.

And this is Markus, from West Virginia, and his dog whose name I cannot remember. Markus is parked at the end of an off-ramp off one of the freeways running through town. When I asked if I could take his picture, he seemed a little hesitant at first but agreed when I told him it was for a class. I only had time to take two shots, this one was actually the first one I took. The film in the camera being wound forward made his dog look at me and I really liked that he was looking at his owner in this one. When I look at this picture I think that this guy is doing exactly what he should be doing right now, anybody else would have looked out of place. Not sure why, but that's what comes to mind.

So anyway, I do have one roll of black & white film left that I will be using up on Master J this weekend. There's a place across town that can develop the type of film I had to buy for the class. I'll miss doing the actual processing, but it might be a nice change of pace to just drop it off and then pick it up in a day or so.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Latest Goings On With Our Pack of Crazies

The Hooligan has a question...(he's very serious as you can see)

What would happen if word got out about how good your stupid chickens have it in the backyard?

I mean, you friggin heat up oatmeal for them when it gets below freezing (blech!)

Oh, a dove would move into the coop and refuse to stay out no matter how many times you removed it? And it would eat the free food, drink the never-ending water supply and hang out on the very safe from predators roost?


You didn't really think that one through did you?

I approve of this line of questioning.

So, yeah, a dove has moved into the coop with the girls and refuses to leave or stay out after repeated removal. But it gets worse. Because this morning when I went out to bring the girls their hot oatmeal (shut up, it's cold out) the stupid dove was not only in the coop, it was sitting on the back of Peaches. What. The. Hell?