Well, I’ve blown my posting schedule so I will stop making promises about regular posts.
One reason is all this running back and forth to San Diego. It has been fun, but exhausting. I also just got a shiny new car and have had fun getting it all tricked out. Got some tasteful license plate frames that sparkle subtly and a custom license plate with my name, Bethany, on it.
After I bought the custom plate, Geoffrey reminded me that I had better watch what I say on NextDoor as I will be highly visible in our neighborhood now, LOL! Oops.
Back to this post. I recently attended an Art Wolfe seminar. Wolfe is a pioneering photographer, known world-wide, as well as artist and author (over 100 books). He has been everywhere that any of us could imagine wanting to take photographs or sketch or paint. In fact, he was among the first photographers to climb Mt. Everest some 45 years ago. But Wolfe is both a pioneer, a master and an iconoclast.
His instruction in this particular day-long seminar was about finding extraordinary art in ordinary, everyday places and subjects. He tells his students that there is little excitement in taking the 2000th shot of the Tetons or Iguassu falls, penguins on ice in Antartica or a monastery jutting out from a cliff in the Himalayas. Lots of people have been there and done that.
Instead, he looks for beautiful possibilities in plain or even ugly places and objects. Up for a challenge, I took 100 pictures all around Valencia and sought out the ugliest things I could find. The results were really encouraging. This post features just a handful of my processed pictures.
As always, I used my four digital cameras (mostly the Nikons, D800 and D610, with their best lenses) and shot in RAW, then turned the best 75 of those shots into TIFs in Lightroom; then took the TIFs into Photoshop to make any further adjustments (like cropping in tight, while maintaining the original ratio so size and information were not compromised, or straightening them or removing excess noise or distracting artifacts, etc.). Often that was all they needed, but I also ran some of them through the various programs in Topaz (I have them all, the latest versions of Textures and Glow, being my favorites). I selected the best 50 or so and turned them into the final, lossy JPEGs.
The originals would really make you laugh and can be seen on my Flickr photostream.
Now when I am out with my cameras (and I always have at least one with me, or use my phone when desperate), I purposely seek out subjects with exceptional characteristics Wolfe listed in his neat little summary: line, color, texture, or all three. He takes people on photographic safaris all over the world, all year long, so I plan to sign up for one when I can snag a block of time. Pretty exciting.
The meaning of the title of this post is conciously conceiving of your eye as a camera, or deliberately making your camera do what your eyes and mind do automatically. When we look at something, we immediately process it in our mental machinery and the result is usually added values. If we can train ourselves to use our eyes and camera together as one artistic assembly, we can produce limitless, original works.
Wolfe frames and sells many of his to museums, offices, homes, and public spaces. When you see them framed, you realize the genius of his eye and mind. I hope to train myself along those lines. All of these pictures in RAW were over 40 feet wide in their original format.
Another reason I have been so busy and therefore absent for longer stretches here, is that we have decided to buy a condo in Downtown San Diego. My next post will be about that. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am at the prospects there.
My in-laws have planned a family trip to a resort scheduled for two weeks this summer and then my family is making their annual pilgrimage to Plum Island in July, so I have a lot of decisions to make, upcoming. I am now just keeping a set of suitcases in the foyer. With all this traveling, no point in putting them away.
We plan to head to the beach in Ventura on Saturday. It is supposed to rain, but that just makes the prospect of dark waves and lots of wind-whipped seafoam all the more attractive to my Yankee heart. If we do go, I will be bringing the cameras, natch.
Miss you all and love you! Stay tuned.
Images: Chez BeBe assets: Art of the Real originals
When I first visited out here back in the 1980s, I was immediately struck by how cheerful everyone was.
It didn’t seem forced or phony. People were literally happy. I cannot explain it. Golden state atmosphere, perhaps? Everything turns to gold. Or could it be that unhappy people just leave.
Unhappy like — forgive me — a lot of people in New Jersey, as an example that comes to mind immediately. Now, don’t get me wrong. NJ, especially at the shore and Monmouth, Ocean, Freehold counties, is gorgeous. Rolling green farms, orchards loaded with fruit, white beaches with warm, blue water and undulating dunes, bursting with lobsters, crab and other sea fare. I love New Jersey and my parents owned a home there at the beach for my entire childhood.
While I was living there, I never noticed the sadness or pessimism. But the minute I left the East Coast, traveled the world and ultimately moved to California, I could spot someone from the Garden State immediately. They always seemed to have a cloud following them around.
New Yorkers are seriously, pragmatic, street-savvy people. But they aren’t sad.
Forgive these sweeping generalizations because I am sure there are many exceptions to all of this. These are my ethnographic observations and merely anecdotal.
But, of one thing I am sure. California is a happier place to be for many reasons. And believe me, I resisted it for years. I simply could not incarnate in a place where everyone was just celebrating all the time. It seemed impossible and wrong, somehow. But this year, of all times in my life, I am so grateful I am here in California. I want to wrap this state around me and my family and protect us from the dark waves rolling over our country. It has become my bunker.
Pivoting a bit — and coming back to the standard explanations for California happiness — is trust. Californians trust their state to do good and right things that will make them happy. They don’t need a disruptor disintermediating. They trust their interlocutors and leaders.
One of the reasons is, the state has been controlled for the most part, for decades, by progressives. And the result is a superior health care system, responsiveness to the homeless population, low crime rates, a well regulated and equipped law enforcement system and an adequate infrastructure maintenance and development program. It isn’t perfect, as the recent dam overflow demonstrated but it is better than most.
This is a large, expansive, and populous state with a thriving economy. While my beloved New York State will always be home and first in my estimation, I finally acknowledge the excellence of quality living in California. A high standard of living, every kind of natural resource and beautiful weather are just icing on the cake. And all that with those pesky rules, restrictions and regulations that libertarians are always dreaming should be done away with. Uh, I don’t think so. They work here and no one seems to chafe at them.
For all the people that ridicule Californians for being superficial, light-weights or shallow, for bleeding heart liberalism and left-wing fringe-ism, Californians are actually having a good time, while caring for and about their fellow men and women. In fact, you can only be generous to others, when your basic needs are met. They are met here in abundance. California has been and will continue to actually walk the progressive talk. If you want to know what the future would look like throughout this country, if progressives were enabled to implement their policies and realize their vision of America as a prospering people who look out for each other and embody the highest values of the human spirit, just look at California right now.
Californians are having the last laugh.
Images: Chez BeBe assets: San Diego, California
Every single day, for as long as I can remember, stretching back to when I was a toddler I have tried to learn as much as I can about the world around me.
And, every single day since I was 17 or 18 and discovered that the key to getting the most out of being a member of the so-called most intelligent earthly species was to be conscious, to study and think deeply, I have also sought to develop awareness, of myself, others and that same world, starting right in my little family and radiating outward.
Radiating outward to encompass the neighborhood, the city, the region, the country, the world, the universe.
If I want to be healthy, I have to study hard, a lot of complex subjects that include biology, physiology, anatomy, chemistry, biochemistry, agriculture, climate, ecology. Just for that one endeavor.
When I buy a car, I do extensive research, now made easier by dozens of online sites that put every car on the planet at my fingertips.
So too any household products or a vacation or an academic course or a home to buy or rent.
This is just common sense to me. It is the way I was raised. My parents counseled me to do whatever I could to the very best of my ability and to stretch beyond what I thought were my limits, so I could grow. And the ultimate goal was not only to ensure my own success but that of those and the world around me too.
That is why the current mental sophistry is so unfathomable. When did learning — excellent learning — and reaching higher toward the best that human beings can be and do become suspect?
I can understand the fear about job scarcity and terrorism, while vehemently disagreeing about the way they are being handled. For example, the current administration head has lied and given coal miners the false hope that those jobs are returning. They will not return, because the owners are increasingly mechanizing operations and clean energy manufacturing is becoming more cost effective than fossil fuels production. Terrorists have caused fewer violent deaths in the US than toddlers with their parents’ guns. But, those lies appeal to the fearful. Those I can understand because people are reacting to the world emotionally and not thinking it through or doing their homework with sound information sourcing.
What I cannot understand is the reverse intellectual snobbery that attends the destruction of our information sources, sciences and schools. A small group of dark, destructive men is taking over all three areas.
Clearly, there are dual motives in attacking our free public education system: power and money grabs. But, learning systems cannot be based on profiteering. They must be founded in scientific and empirical knowledge of human (i.e., child) development and a sound, thorough understanding of the physical and social world in which that child is held. Ideology is fine, theorizing a natural outgrowth of human study, but there are actual provable traits and features of human growth that must form the basis of a curriculum. You can’t just dream things up in your head and then ramrod them through by force, if you want an educated, thriving species.
According to the man who runs the White House, the white nationalist, Stephen Bannon, a main aim of the new regime dictating US policy is to “deconstruct” the Federal government. They will be bolstering defense and national security (lucrative defense and weapons contracts, building of private prisons, an enormous militarized deportation force that will involve the erection of massive detention centers and of course the infamous ‘wall’) but destroying other structures such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education under a completely unqualified woman whose only credentials are being the sister of the man who formed Blackwater and marriage to a billionaire.
When do you ever hear of benevolent entities wishing to disasssemble protective apparatuses and strip ordinary people of basic human necessities?
Even Glenn Beck, someone I rarely agree with, has sounded the ominous bell about the minds behind the new isolationist and white national philosophy of this administration, the late French philosopher, Jacques Derrida who came up with the idea of applying Deconstruction wherever one wishes to dismantle ideology and Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian who promotes economic nationalism. According to Beck, Bannon is dangerous.
It is highly irresponsible for people to vote for figures who will determine the world’s fate without knowing what beliefs and agenda are behind their actions. Apparently, 25% of the American adult population did exactly that. No, good paying jobs in obsolete sectors are not being created by these people. They are not improving the economy for the average person and greatest number of people (for example, the middle class will see virtually no tax breaks at all under their plan) and worst of all, they have aimed their deconstruction at education.
By the way, the world’s “white” population is only 10%. So who are these malicious white nationalists doing this for? Certainly not humanity writ large.
Now, as they blatantly defend their ties to the Russian government and a growing circle of illicit oligarchs, they attack the free press and begin to take down the schooling of the populace. If you want to take away someone’s rights and resources, that is how you do it. Keep people disinformed and diseducated.
When you vote, you have to be more proactive than apparently this 25% were. What investigation of this group did they do? Are they willing to give up these intellectual freedoms for the fools’ gold they were promised last year? How about those who did not vote or protest voted for a third party candidate. How will they make this up to us?
I am sorry for being so serious, but this is a grave forecast. This is the aspiration of Steve Bannon and his coterie of nefarious puppetmasters with their megalomaniacal dream of upheaval and world domination. And make no mistake, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, who have economic aspirations to transfer massive wealth to their corporate cronies, are quietly sitting back and handing the keys to the kingdom to these rasputins.
Again, every single day, I strive to be awake and aware, no matter how painful. Yes, I would like to bury my head and wait this out. But at the other end of this process, which may be a full 16 years from now, America and the world will be very different places if we continue on blithely ignoring what is unfolding right in front of us. No science, no education, no legitimate press, in other words, no facts, no truths, just lies to keep us compliant. 1984 will look like a picnic when these people are done with us.
They need to keep us stuck on stupid. And we are still doing little to stop them.
Image: Wikimedia commons
OK, everyone, I feel badly.
It has been how many weeks since I last posted? I admit it. My schedule has been overwhelmed and I don’t know with what really, as things have been somewhat unremarkable but jam-packed.
I am back up at our main place in Valencia and have had a chance to recover from baby-watching (although he has to be the cutest, smartest baby ever) and then dive into all the projects that went begging while I was down south. Including (remind me I said I would never do this again) making a sweater for one of my many sisters-in-law.
The darn thing is patterned on a couple I have made before with Noro wool yarn that I absolutely love. But, it’s pricey and a bit scratchy and even though I love working in wool, in SoCal wool is a mother, i.e., a moth-er. Moth-bait, moth-meal … you get the idea.
So I decided to get a beautiful hand spun yarn with variegated colors similar to the Noro, but made of acrylic. Slippery devils, had to match self-striping, used three different color-ways so designing and coordinating and putting seams together so the stripes were consistent were real bears. I didn’t get much else done for almost two weeks so I could deliver it in time for a birthday bash this weekend. Oi vey.
Before I forget, welcome newcomers. I have had an explosion of new followers and I am so grateful to you that you are willing to endure my tedium.
Back to the main topic, my absence here and my crazy frenzied life now in two places, with two sets of everything to clean (I may finally have to get help, but I hate to do it. I need the exercise and I prefer to spend the money on stuff. Oh well.) I have to give Geoffrey credit though. He manfully did the laundry (and folded it — setting it out in neat piles like decorations all over the bedrooms, hee hee), the yard, the animals, even the bathrooms (!!) and still got all his work done. Then he gave me the most thoughtful Valentine gift and card. What a good guy.
One thing I discovered while in SD is that the places above Downtown are referred to collectively, by the locals, as Uptown. I hadn’t really known any other place that seriously identifies itself as Uptown, as it has sort of a noblesse oblige sound to it that relegates the term (in my mind, anyway) to the 19th century. But then I realize that I always seem to gravitate to upper reaches anywhere I go. I wonder if this is some past-life mandated longing for the Arctic? 😀
As I wandered around taking random shots, I felt more scrutiny than usual. Literally people eyeing me suspiciously. This seems to be happening more and more and makes me less likely to drag out the big cameras and lenses and just take cell phone shots or my smallest camera and lens. I am thinking of buying a Nikon Lens Baby and just pop the smallest camera into my purse, discreetly. That is why a Rolleiflex would be so handy – as it sits at the waist, is viewed from above and no one really knows you are taking pictures.
This last trip to the southern reaches made me realize as well that I had not been to Downtown San Diego at all. I am going to have to remedy that, as it is quite unique and beautiful in its own way, much like the other old city centers around the country. That will be upcoming.
Now I have rambled on enough, caught you up. Still raining here every week. Can you believe it? I hope it continues as it makes me feel like I am back home in NY.
I will be around to visit my friends here. A hug to you all in a belated Valentine wish.
Images: Chez Bibi assets: Uptown San Diego
I wasn’t going to post this week, as I have been swamped down here with getting the house in better shape, helping care for the baby, running around shopping with Deanna et al. and dodging the torrential rains (joy!).
But I had to say something today as the New Deal and Great Society draw to a close.
Yesterday, I heard an interview with a man in Erie, PA who explained why he voted for the next man to enter the Oval Office, later today. He said it was because he had “borrowed a million dollars from his father and made it into ten billion”. I felt sorry for that guy. That was an urban myth that has floated on the surface of superficial factism that has now characterized the news for the past eight years. What that man and many like him doesn’t know is that the current electee received two hundred million dollars upon the death of his father and only has three-quarters of it left.
I am simultaneously reading a prodigious 1100 page tome on Nixon. What strikes me is how the politics and shenanigans of dirty pool and lies of that day were exactly as they are today. Nixon was a much more fit occupier of the roles he assumed but just as underhanded and ruthless in politicking as the future POTUS. Nothing much has changed, except the blindness of the voters here and the far right politicians who pushed back on tricky Dick in those days who seem absent today. Everyone is onboard with his fleecing the public now. And the press is luke-warm in exposing the true agenda.
What we are losing is the calm, intelligent, deliberative, intellectually curious mind of a dedicated humanitarian for a selfish, egotistical, inflated dabbler who will offload his duties to his daughter, her spouse and his VP. I never thought I would be grateful for that trio of fools, but I am. The last person who should be “guiding” our country is the man only a few sad, misguided, desperate people voted for in three rust-belt states. I know those people are suffering. At least they are used to it, because it will continue and then some. They are living in their own fantasy now and I hope it carries them through what is ahead. They failed to take the policies espoused to their logical conclusion, something every good logician should do.
Goodbye science, education, ecology, gun-safety, international harmony, free speech, honest press, access, transparency, social security, medicare, medicaid, earned benefits, low inflation, bank oversight, the helping hand, Americanism. Think about what’s in store. Russophiles have triumphed. Even Nixon would be horrified.
Images: Thomas Kincaid in the public domain