The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

This week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge is leading lines.  Tina’s challenge is to display photos with lines “carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects.”

Cover photo: San Pablo Bay, California
Converging lines. The lines of the shore and the clouds.

Chinatown, San Francisco, California
In this image, the buildings of Washington Street carry the viewer’s eye to the Bay Bridge. WIth a careful look (and some imagination) the image is all about lines; the vertical lines of the buildings and the bridge tower and the horizontals of the shorelines, the bridge, the hills and the lines of clouds. Chinatown Bay Bridge

Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana
Two converging paths are the lines that lead to one of the few painted tombs in the cemetery. Lafayette streetcorner Continue reading

It’s at times like this when I remember that I was one of Lance Armstrong’s last suckers.  Armstrong; he was the man.  Seven Tour de France wins in a row.  Who does that?  Turns out, a cheater does that.  I was a Lance defender right up until the time that the wheels came off Lance’s victories and he became indefensible.  Disappointed – yes. Surprised – not really.  Crushed – oh hell no, I was way past those days of looking at sport as a builder of character. 

And so when Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros got busted for cheating during the 2017 season I wasn’t at all surprised.  Just another day at the ballpark/stadium/arena/track, you pick the venue. This particular infamy involves the Astros using video equipment to steal the opposing catcher’s signs and relaying the upcoming pitch to the Astros’ hitters.  When a hitter knows exactly what pitch is coming he’s given a tremendous advantage. 

The point of this isn’t to replay the minutiae of the Astros’ cheating.  Anyone who wants to know the sordid and at the same time ridiculous details can just Google, Houston Astros to come up with a veritable library.  No, this is about cheating in sport and the notions that get batted around every time someone gets caught trying to “get an edge.”

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This week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge presented to us by Amy is #79: A Window With A View.

Cover photo: Chinatown, San Francisco California. The window of a Chinatown market shows us a view of edible delights and Muni bus in the reflection.

Chapel of the Transfiguration – Grand Teton National Park
In a small patch of land marked mostly by scraggly brush sits a small log chapel built in 1925 to serve settlers so they would not have to take a long ride into Jackson for Sunday service. A window behind the pulpit frames the magnificent Grand Teton mountains.


Very few of my images represent inside looking out.  Most are views from the outside looking into a colorful or interesting display.

Virginia City, Nevada
Virginia City is a 19th century silver mining town, located just east of the Sierra Nevada. We visited Virginia City in October and the windows of the historic shops were decorated for Halloween. IMG_2101


What’s an old time town without an old time candy store

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“The important thing to you is not how many years in your life, but how much life in your years!” ~ Edward J. Stieglitz

Years in life, life in years.  I had a discussion about that sort of thing just a few days ago – with myself.  It was a three A.M. meditation forced on me by a bout of early morning wakefulness.  At the time it was about as welcome as those occasions when my daughter strong arms me into a lecture about one of my usual domestic improprieties.  She hangs on like the proverbial pit bull and if I try to wriggle away she clamps down harder and shakes me around a little for good measure.  I’m not sure, but I think Cora occasionally uses our daughter as the household hired gun.  I’m not complaining mind you – much. She’s doing it out of love and concern for the old man.

I asked myself, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” That it’s one of the dumbass questions that seems to be a required element of every job interview was bad enough. That it entered my head at three in the morning and persisted just compounded the offense.  It was another of those far too early vigils when I wake up and can’t find sleep again.

Sometimes it’s an earworm, one of those annoying songs that squirms through your head, something creepy and vile like oh, Macarena, but that’s not a hard and fast earworm rule.  Recently it’s been Gaga’s Bad Romance of all things,
“I want your ugly, I want your disease
I want your everything as long as it’s free
I want your love, love, love, love
I want your love”
As earworms go it’s not all that bad unless it’s crawling through the gray matter before sunrise.  But on this one particular morning there was no Gaga, no ugly, no disease and certainly no love, love, love.  Just that dead horse flogged by HR flunkies the world over.  “Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

Flat on your back in the predawn it’s as if the malevolent spirit that conjures these sleep repellants is wielding a rubber hose.  What can you do at that hour, flat on your back except yield to the inquisition.  That “where do you see yourself” question was as unavoidable as it’s ever been when pitched to me while seated at a long shiny conference room table staring with faked earnestness at a prospective employer. Continue reading

For the decade’s first Lens-Artists Photo Challenge we’ve been asked to share a special spot.  Yellowstone has been a special place for me since I was a child.  I’ve been to many places in this big world and for me Yellowstone is clearly special, made more so during a return trip in 2015.

We entered the park from the southern border and Yellowstone immediately went to work providing stunning scenes. The Lewis River was a spectacular mirror for a blue sky puffed with clouds.

Lewis River 5x7

Lewis River

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I’m ending the year with my very first photo challenge entry, Patti’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #77, Favorite Photos of 2019.

There’s not much rhyme or reason to my selections. As I scroll through a year of photos I’m not looking for anything in particular; just that brief recognition that something in the image strikes me.

Silver Terraces Cemetery, Virginia City. Ghostly graveyard.
There was never any doubt about including this photo as edited in black and white. The photo as originally shot in color is a flat daytime scene. After editing, the ho-hum daytime shot turns into a ghostly nighttime image. The shadows against the stark white give the impression of an unseen full moon. (The original color image is below the monochrome).


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I was feeding the parking meter at the corner of Spear and Howard Streets in San Francisco’s south of Market area when Cora pointed up at one of the many high rise buildings going up in the area.
“Look at that building.”

Following her finger I gazed up at a strange twisted tower. It looked like some giant had planted it into the concrete and over tightening, caused the building to contort. Is this a  a preview of a structure tortured by the next big earthquake? We haven’t had one of those in San Francisco since my birthday in 1989 and the construction debris and chain link fence still surrounding the tower identify it as a work still in progress. This curious structure just begs to be photographed.

MIRA Tower As Shot

As originally shot from Howard Street

A young woman with the same idea stopped in the middle of her run, pulled out her phone and took shots from different angles. We wound up next to each other and between our skyward gazing exchanged a knowing look.
“Isn’t that a cool building?” she said.
“Very cool.”

MIRA Tower 2

As originally shot from Spear St.

The building is called MIRA, a 39 story, 422 foot gnarled looking residential monolith designed by Studio Gang Architects.  Construction began in 2017 and completion is scheduled for 2020. Continue reading

This installment of Friday Fotos honors the winter solstice, one of my favorite days of the year.  Actually it’s only one my favorites because the day after the solstice is more of a favorite.  That’s because the 22nd of December is just a smidge longer.  Oh it’s not longer by much.  Not even noticeable, only a moral victory really.  But when it comes to this annual celestial gift it’s the thought that counts; the thought that we’ve taken the first step on the homestretch towards summer.

I know, it would be more appropriate to post images of winter but this is a celebration of the impending summer (okay fine, distant summer).  I don’t do winter, not well anyway.  I’m not a fan.  My feeling is, there’s a reason that they call it the bleak midwinter.  I’m older and I get cold and cranky (Cora would say cranky-ER).  There should be some winter images in the offing but today I’m celebrating winter solstice and the coming of summer with more images taken at the San Francisco Botanical Garden on a very hot Saturday in June.

Chilean plant 5x7 Continue reading

The family Christmas tree is finally up, decorated and lit. I have to admit to some Christmases past when I would get just a few drops lit myself. Like Scrooge I would be visited by spirits, only my spirits were more fluid than the old mizer’s and often mixed with eggnog. The spirits would visit during the course of the decorating and the visitation usually consisted of three or more. The next morning I would be visited by more spirits, tortured, malevolent ones pounding from the inside of my skull as if trying a desperate escape. It’s sort of a tradition of dad’s family that goes back generations, one that we’ve discontinued.

We’re later than usual with the tree. That’s because Christmas is coming early this year. Actually it’s not arriving early. It’s on the 25th of December just like every other year, but I took this issue up in my last post so if you need to catch up, you can read about it in Considering Christmas. Continue reading

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