Learning Joy

As a rule, cameras are generally not regarded as sentient beings, but I don’t hold with that; all of mine are individuals, with as many likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, quirks, hangups and personal opinions as the average human being.

Joy, my new Holga 120N, is a lot like me: feisty, occasionally clumsy, and determined to see only what she wants to see, but also capable of producing something beautiful when the mood strikes her.


Joy’s strength, apparently, is in portraits, as evidenced by this shadowy but interesting shot of my friend Linda.

Joy is also rather fond of blue skies, as she demonstrated in these images we took on Route 66 yesterday afternoon:



I’m not sure I like that soft focus she put on things in the two pictures above, but I think I’ve found the sweet spot in the lens (which for some reason is a little off-center), so I should be able to work with that a bit next time I take her out. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of really obvious light leaks, which could be good or bad, depending on your point of view.

For those of you trying to figure out how she got her name, here’s another hint: I initially considered calling her “Flannery.”



It’s a quiet evening in Red Fork. Here at the House of the Lifted Lorax, there’s a fire in the woodstove, a dog curled up in front of it, and a teakettle heating up; I should be able to make a cup of Red Zinger soon. I’ve got a long list of things to clean and projects to finish, but I worked late, I’m tired, and I hear that stack of Sentinels calling me, so I think I’ll just fix myself a little dinner and curl up and read until Ron gets home.

Have a good evening, wherever you are.



I stopped by a friend’s house to drop something off this evening after church. We got to talking and wound up going out for a walk at Reed Park, which is close to her house.

We picked a good night for it.

The weather was cool but not cold enough to be uncomfortable, and the sky was so clear that the stars looked very close as they glittered through the treetops. Best of all, we felt very safe, because a couple of laps into our walk, a half-dozen police cars descended on the Head Start building next to the park, and a group of officers spent the next hour or so going in and out of the building, doing some training with their big, beautiful police dogs.

Hope you had a good evening.


10 on Tuesday

I can’t decide whether I really like the whole blog-meme concept or not, but I’ll stick with it a little longer and see. This week’s Ten on Tuesday topic: 10 best games. ‘Scuse me while I show my age:

1. Q*Bert. Best. Video. Game. Ever. You can play a knockoff of it here.
2. Pac-Man. Especially the version they put in those tabletop machines at pizzerias.
3. Yar’s Revenge. But the new version that comes in the little joystick with all the built-in games isn’t as cool as the original, because they’ve edited out the Ghost of Yars that would wipe out the game every now and then. I used to find the Ghost handy for ending games that had become interminable: Just dance over onto the black line that went creeping through the fireworks when you blew up the Qotile, and — voila! — game over! HSWWSH!
4. Pong. The first, and still one of the best.
5. Monopoly. I used to beg my parents to play Monopoly with me. They always balked, because it took forever … and encouraged viciously competitive, materialistic behavior in the process. I was a ruthless little would-be real-estate tycoon when it came to Monopoly.
6. Sorry! Way more fun than it had any right to be.
7. Uno.
8. Dots. Best way I can think of to kill time during long bus rides or boring chemistry lectures.
9. Trivial Pursuit. Genus Edition.
10. Does riding a bicycle over bubble wrap count as a game? Because it makes an excellent machine-gun sound effect. Especially when you get the appliance-packing-material kind with the heavy plastic and enormous bubbles.

What were your favorite games?

Antici …

(Say it!)


After shooting digital for two years, I’d quite forgotten the exquisite agony of waiting to get prints back from the camera shop. I got a reminder this morning when I handed the lady at Apertures a roll of 400-speed T-max containing my new Holga’s first images. Waiting for five o’clock (the time my prints would be ready), I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas.

They’re not the best images I ever got, but considering the fact that I hadn’t shot black-and-white film in over two years and was breaking in a plastic, fixed-focus camera on a cloudy day, I think they turned out pretty well.

For the Holga’s maiden journey, I took her out on Route 66 to get some images of familiar places, including the bridge above, which is on an old alignment of the Mother Road in Chelsea.

I love my Rebel, but it felt good to shoot film again. Below are a few more of the pictures I shot with the Holga, which I have since christened “Joy.” (First person who can correctly identify the source of the name will win a fabulous prize.)


Swinney’s Hardware, located on an early alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa.


Roadside park on Route 66 in Catoosa.


Bridge on an old alignment of Route 66 in Chelsea.

Incidentally, this was the first time I’d used Apertures for processing, but it definitely won’t be the last. They were very helpful and friendly, the price was very reasonable ($5.50 for processing and 69 cents each for 5×5 prints), and the turnaround time was impressive: just under eight hours for black-and-white, medium-format film.

For my next performance, I’ll find out how the Holga does with color film on a sunny day….


Bandanna projects

I cleared several projects off my plate this evening. All of them, oddly enough, involved bandannas. Having been taught by my creative writing teachers to “show, don’t tell,” I’ll just let pictures explain it:

1. Gift wrapping. No tape, no wrapping paper — just reusable ribbon and bandannas. I’m hoping to start a trend that will keep a few rolls of wrapping paper out of the landfill. 🙂



2. Wallets. I finally finished making the “fabulous prize” I promised to Janet, the blog reader who got the correct answer to the Neil Diamond trivia question a few weeks ago. She’s getting a dark purple wallet with metallic gold paisleys on it. While I was at it, I made a purple floral print wallet for my friend Kathryn from Australia, who kindly shipped me some Vegemite and some cool souvenirs from Down Under a couple of weeks ago; camo and royal blue paisley wallets to hold checks for a couple of Ron’s young relatives for Christmas; and a saucy little rockabilly-looking lipstick-print wallet to replace the boring harvest gold paisley one I’d made for myself a few months ago. The wallets are all made the same way; I just showed them in three different positions because I’m probably going to post them on Craftster later and people might want to get an idea of how they’re put together.


3. Book cover. Because I’m a Christian Scientist, I don’t carry aspirin or anything like that … but I do keep pocket-sized copies of the Bible and Science and Health in my purse so I can look up healing ideas on the fly. The books survived WWII unscathed in my Sunday School teacher’s pocket, but my purse is a whole ‘nother matter, so this evening, I used a steam iron, a bandanna, a bit of fusible webbing, and a scrap of ribbon to make this handy-dandy slipcover, which protects the books from the stray coins and keys that have a tendency to get wedged between the pages and dogear them.

It took a bit of trial and error to fold it and press creases into the right spots, but I think it turned out pretty well. I’m including pictures of how it folds up in case you feel like riffing on the design to protect a book or two of your own. I think the basic design could probably be modified fairly easily to accommodate a paperback novel.





We spent part of this afternoon cruising 66 to Chelsea so I could take some pictures with my new Holga. I’ll try to get the roll developed this week so I can show you what (if anything) I got. This is the first roll I’ve put through the camera, and it’s a Holga, and it’s been a long time since I shot film, so I’m not holding my breath, but we’ll see….

I was going to decorate for Christmas today, but I have to clear my craft desk first, and I couldn’t do that until I finished my bandanna projects, so I guess I’ll just plan on cleaning the living room and digging the tree out of the garage tomorrow evening.

On a totally random note, I have been listening to some excellent blue-eyed soul this evening: Amy Winehouse (I have decided that “Amy Amy Amy” is one of the best songs ever written, and “Love Is a Losing Game” sounds like some long-lost Dusty Springfield relic), Joss Stone (love her cover of “God Only Knows”), and Van Morrison (“Tupelo Honey”). Wonderful stuff.

Hope you had a good weekend.


The gift goes on

Yes! I am about 80 percent finished with my Christmas shopping for this year.

The year Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, I made a bunch of Christmas ornaments in Mardi Gras colors, tucked them into purple bags with a little color-coordinated tinsel and some Mardi Gras beads and coins, and attached a note to each one, explaining that instead of buying tchotchkes for our loved ones that year, we were sending our whole Christmas budget to NOLA to help people who really needed it.

Nobody seemed to mind being dragged off the mindless consumerism merry-go-round by yours truly, so I decided to do it again this year … only instead of helping New Orleans, I did a lot of my shopping through Heifer International and then made small, symbolic gifts to represent the animals I’d purchased in honor of my friends and family. I’ll post pictures of those after Christmas so I don’t ruin the surprise now. 🙂

Ron and I went to Kiddlestix — an awesome indie toy store here in Tulsa — to buy a few toys for the rugrats on my list. If you’ve got kids to buy for, I highly recommend taking the mom-and-pop approach. Independent toy stores always have better stuff (think educational toys, luxurious plush puppets, and classics such as ant farms, puzzles, and Noah’s Ark sets), and they’re never as crowded or annoying as the big-box joints.

At Swinney’s Hardware a couple of weeks ago, I bought Jamie a Radio Flyer roadster, which is a little bit too big for him right now, but which I think he’ll grow into by spring. I also bought him a little bead table at Kiddlestix.

For my goddaughter, I picked up a gorgeous two-headed dragon puppet. It’s a Folkmanis, of course (click the “dragon duo” link to see a picture), and I think her daddy and older sister will have a ball making it talk to her. I got her sister a set of Sea-Monkeys, which I think she’ll get a kick out of watching.

Kiddlestix also had a science project that involved making your own ice cream. You put all the ingredients in a bag, stick the bag inside a twisted-up T-shirt, and sling the T-shirt around while the ice cream freezes. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen, so I bought one for the Wild Things who helped me paint my mural last winter.

Now, if I can just find a couple of cards, some white ribbon, and 11 red bandannas at the dollar store, I’ll be good to go. (I’m using the bandannas as reusable, environmentally friendly wrapping paper for the Heifer gifts.)

I still need to either make or buy some Christmas cards, clean the living room, put up the tree, and make candy, but at least I’m a little closer to being caught up….


Lazy Saturday


I was supposed to run a half-marathon in Kansas this morning, but I decided I just wasn’t up for it after last week’s run (which revealed to me just exactly how out of shape I can get in two months’ time), so I blew it off in favor of running some errands this afternoon … including making a trip to Apertures in search of gaffer’s tape to seal up one of the major light leaks on the back of my Holga before I take it out for a spin.

The photo above is one I shot with my Rebel while we were puttering down Route 66 the other night. Here’s another angle of the same sign:


And just to make you smile, here’s a little dose of cute:


Have a good weekend.


200 lashes

If you’ve ever worked for a newspaper, you know that holidays — especially those that fall in the middle of the week — typically bring with them a series of jacked-up deadlines, vanishing sources, staffing issues, and other problems that make life in the newsroom so inconvenient that you start to question whether holidays are even worth the trouble.

Today being Thanksgiving, yesterday was such a circus that I didn’t even have time to read the paper until this morning, when I was clearing the kitchen table and my eye fell on this article about “Qatif girl,” a young gang-rape victim from Saudi Arabia who now faces a six-month jail sentence and 200 lashes because at the time of her kidnapping, she was sitting in a car with an unrelated man, which Saudi law forbids.

The article left me feeling like a bit of a heel for grumbling about the Thanksgiving-related hassles at work — especially considering that the Constitutional amendment that guarantees me the right to do that work also guarantees me the right to hang out with anybody I want, anywhere I want, without government interference.

The article also left me with visions of VW Rabbits and biodiesel conversion kits dancing in my head, and I began mentally composing a sharply worded “don’t make me boycott you” letter to King Abdullah to try to pressure him to override the court and rescue this girl from a lashing.

After crunching some numbers, however, I realized that the threat of one driver taking one fuel-efficient Scion off the road wasn’t exactly going to leave the wealthy Saudi king quaking in his boots.

Humanly, there didn’t seem to be much I could do about the situation. But I remembered a quote from abolitionist Wendell Phillips that Mary Baker Eddy mentions in some of her writings: “One on God’s side is a majority.” And I thought of the verse from James that promises, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

As I considered the Qatif case, I realized I’d seen variations on this scenario before.

Remember the group of Jewish leaders who caught a woman in the act of adultery and asked a popular preacher what they ought to do with her?

Two thousand years later, we’re still talking about the preacher’s response: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

In thinking about that story, I realized that I didn’t need to be afraid for this girl. While Jesus might not be standing in the courtroom, telling the judges that he who is without sin should take the first swing, the ever-present Christ is right there with all of them, speaking to human consciousness, just as it has been doing since the beginning of time.

I also found it very helpful that our Thanksgiving Lesson this morning at church included the following bits of wisdom from Mrs. Eddy:

Divine Love corrects and governs man.

Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine “powers that be.”

I am praying to understand that better in the coming weeks as the Saudi courts consider this young woman’s appeal.

Have a good Thanksgiving, wherever you are.