~ I should have watched this years ago. Could have saved myself from many embarrassing dining experiences.
Writing for the local paper has many surprising perks. Money is not one of them, but the opportunity to meet interesting people and learn about things I may not otherwise learn about makes up for it. Not having to worry about word count and guaranteed weekly publication also doesn’t hurt. I am also thankful for good editors that know when to delete my ramblings and fix my atrocious punctuation – something I could benefit from here as well.
What’s the best part you may ask? The answer surprises me and I actually just realized it this morning. Getting a chance to do all of this and then taking the photographs that will accompany the story (most of the time) turns out to be the best part of the gig. I knew I liked to tell stories, just ask anyone who has posed a simple yes or no question to me only to get a 10 minute explanation with a lede and conclusion. What I didn’t realize, however, was that taking the photos that would go with my articles would add so much to the story-telling process.
I’m not a professional photographer by any means nor does the paper consider me one, but small town news requires multitasking so reporters often take photos when the actual reporting concludes. The photo editor surely hopes for the best when it is time to collect the images. But there is something about interviewing someone face to face and then taking a photo of him/her or whatever objects were the focus of the conversation that really gets my brain fired up to write. Through the lens I can create the story in my head before I even sit in front of the computer.
The topic at 9 AM this morning was the Battle of Gettysburg and interviewing a woman that curated a small exhibit of artifacts from the battle. I listened to her for nearly an hour as she took me through her thought process for creating the exhibit and shared what she had learned during her research. She also showed me the many artifacts and briefly explained their significance.
It wasn’t until I was looking at them through the viewfinder of the camera that her words really resonated with me. Perhaps it is simply having a limited field of vision that makes me connect to what I’m looking at in a different way, a more direct way. Whatever it is, it works and I find that writing without the act of picture taking gets increasingly more difficult.
It just seems flat.
~ I read a Tweet recently where someone said if they were going to wear a computer on their face they would pick Apple as the designer and not Google. I think I’ll pass on both options, thanks!
~ I would love to see this flying in the sky. We saw some great hot air balloons when we lived in Northern Colorado, but nothing even close to being this spectacular. Her website has some great photos too: http://www.patriciapiccinini.net.
Found at Laughing Squid.
Prairie and I went for our weekly Wednesday history tour today and settled on The Old Manse and North Bridge area of Concord, about a 15 minute drive from our house. The historic home and the legendary bridge turn out to be neighbors, a fact I first learned a few months ago when driving by the area sans dog. Both sites are also part of the Minuteman National Historic Park along with the Battle Road Trail and other sites.
Public parking is available in two places when visiting. One is located directly across from The Old Manse and the other is on the far side of the North Bridge at the North Bridge Visitor Center. Both can accommodate commercial buses, RVs, and passenger cars. Dogs are welcome on leash, but you will need to bring your own bags and there aren’t any public trash containers. The Old Manse has grounds you can enjoy for free (inside tours are not) and you can follow the trail that leads to the North Bridge and then up to the Visitor Center.
According to some helpful signage, the second floor of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ancestral home – The Old Manse – looks down on the North Bridge and it is thought that Emerson’s grandparents watched the April 19, 1775 battle just a few hundred yards away from their house. Over a half a century later, making the gothic home the rental of all rental properties, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia, would live there, paying $100 a year in rent. A highlight of the house tour is viewing the glass window panes where the couple etched poetry using Sophia’s diamond ring – something I was not able to see today since weekday tours don’t begin until May 26. Henry David Thoreau planted a garden in front of the house in honor of the couple’s wedding and it’s still in use.
As Prairie and I walked down the dirt and gravel path leading to the house, she suddenly assumed the tell-tale position of a dog about to poo. I don’t know why, but the thought of her doing that within a few feet of the front door bothered me immensely. It felt wrong in both a fundamental and historic way. It also made me think about the time my older brother realized Walden Pond was open for swimming, thinking it was protected from public use because of its history. “Not only can you swim in it,” I told him, “but people leave their children’s dirty diapers on the beach!” I felt his his literary soul crush completely and don’t know if he ever came to terms with the news.
As Prairie fully committed to her squat I tried to pull her away, attempting to drag her to some less obvious place in the grass and away from the house. She would have none of it. In the end I was left standing there for 10 minutes, watching the dog in that awkward position they get in, her face suggesting a certain degree of embarrassment as though she was aware her behavior was in bad taste. The gothic home loomed behind and above her, setting the scene completely.
Even taking out the neon yellow poo bag seemed wrong since it was so out of contrast with the rest of the scenery: lush and green and natural. After dropping her deposits back at the car, we strolled around the Emerson property and followed the trail back to the boathouse on the river. Imagining Hawthorne and Thoreau preparing to launch a boat and float throughout the day proved very distracting and the dog almost toppled off the dock.
It was truly one of those, “I’m so in love with Massachusetts” days. The air was cool and smelled of lilacs, the sun would peak in and out from the clouds, and occasional winds would blow the grass, flowers, and leaves as we walked.
If not for Prairie looking obsessively and neurotically over her shoulder each time she noticed walkers behind us it would have been a peaceful stroll. Instead, her nervousness proved annoying as did her incessant growling at a Minuteman statue.
“Is she a rescue dog?” a nice couple asked when Prairie refused to walk any further until they caught up to us. “No.” I replied, “She’s just neurotic. Makes her fit into our family pretty well.”
Once we made it up to the Visitor Center we continued past and took to the street, looping around the surrounding property, and strolling back to the car. Prairie settled into her walk, content that nobody was following us, and happy to be out and about.
~ While not a big fan of cat videos, this one is good. Most memorable quote: “Like Sisyphus I am bound to hell.”
Another beautiful day here in Massachusetts and another trip to Great Brook Farm State Park with the dog. Only 15 more trips and that season pass will start paying for itself!
Walking the dog and getting exercise while also getting a chance to take nature photographs is working out. But I’ve learned a few things in the last few days about my camera and taking photographs while tethered to the dog. Now that the sun is back out consistently, I really need to find the Nikon sun shade that came with the wide angle lens.
At some point this winter we abandoned the entire first floor of our house because of the persistent cold and moved my desk upstairs where it remains. The shield disappeared that day and was never found. I like to imagine a team of mice took it and repurposed it into something useful rather than where it probably is – shoved under a piece of furniture and covered in a heap of dust.
The lens also seems to have issues with its cover and it is constantly falling off. In order to protect the glass I need to get a filter. Now that I’m learning a bit about photography I’m discovering the cost of lenses. Gulp. I’m also starting to accept the fact I’ll have to start making some money before I can experiment with new ones.
Finally, I’m learning that it is very difficult to hold the leash of a hyperactive dog while also trying to focus and depress the shutter. Not only am I trying to make sure the photo is in focus, but I’m also trying to keep the dog out of Poison Ivy, from eating horse manure, and from running away.
I’m also trying to keep an eye out for snakes. I’m no longer worried about venomous ones per se. The entire spectrum just freaks me out.
Through the camera lens I’m also aware of how green everything is suddenly. It seems that just in the past week or so everything has bloomed and blossomed and become lush. Spring looks good on Carlisle.
~ Best. Cover. Ever.
It would appear we were the victims of a rousing game of Mailbox Baseball last night. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a “sport” typically practiced by suburban and rural teenage boys and involves driving by unsuspecting mailboxes during the night and then smashing them with a bat or other such instrument from the passenger side of the vehicle. It is done for fun.
At some point during the night, Ben awoke to a low rumbling noise and then a profound thump and crash that shook the house. I will note that almost anything shakes our house as it is propped on a 260 year old foundation that needs more love than it has received in the last century or so. This event also verifies that I am a very deep sleeper.
A trip out to the driveway this morning led to the discovery of a crushed mailbox about 10 feet away from its former perch – a retired telephone pole stump. And a call to the police station to report property damage let us know we weren’t the only victim in the neighborhood.
Several hours later we are the proud owners of a new (and cheap) mailbox. It is green. I also have a collection of diabolical plans should this happen again in the next few days or weeks. I won’t get into detailed specifics, but they all involve water balloons, moderate quantities of dye, and levers. While I flirted with the idea of nesting mailboxes with a layer of cement in between layers, it seems like too much work. As did the trebuchet.
I also learned that smashing a mailbox is a federal crime.