The camera

January 31, 2016

What I posted in Facebook today was the photo below and this caption: “A camera made this photo — NIKON D3000   ISO 200   55mm    f9   1/125 — but the camera didn’t make the ice.”


This photo event stretching from the moment I stood over the water puddle on a walk in Pleasant Run Golf Course to the moment of posting on Facebook put me to thinking again about what this hobby is all about.

  1. While I on occasions am moved by my photos, such as this one, I do not think of myself as an aspiring pro. I do not intend to make a run for the gold. I admire professionals — their skills, their making a tough play look easy, their pushing the edges of their respective arenas. Photography is something different for me. It’s a hobby. A senior’s bliss. Therefore I stay with simple equipment and simple processing. Simple aspirations.
  2. Most of my photos relate to another pleasure — taking walks. The two enhance each other.
  3. One abiding outcome of walking with a camera is that I am now seeing what I didn’t see in times past. It’s as though the camera is inviting me to look anew at nature. The camera doesn’t want me to arrange nature, but to observe it — sometimes close-up, sometimes at a distance, sometimes in its intricate relationships. This closer observation leads me to know that the finest art on the planet is natural, often near to us, often unobserved.
  4. I must say this. Nature and the camera and me become all the more significant and enjoyable when shared. Thus, if you wish to make a wall hanging of today’s photo, it’s yours.  I am delighted.



The pol pot

January 30, 2016

This coming national election will be the 16th that I have been aware of. Adlai Stevenson impressed me, but lost to Dwight Eisenhower in both 1952 and 1956.  I was angry about the 1968 results. In 1972 I watched election returns with friends and said late into the evening that I needed to go take a shower. In 1976 Jimmy Carter’s election pleased me. I remember thinking that the first George Bush would be an improvement over Ronald Reagan. I concluded that Bill Clinton was superior to his opponents but felt emotionally and morally distant from him. The big one for me was the election of Barak Obama.

Now, at this moment in the 2016 campaign, several days from the Iowa caucus, I am somewhat unnerved at how very far away from America’s center is my  own political orientation. None of the candidates, repeat NONE, plays my strings. Indeed I feel politically alone and disillusioned.  Maybe there are more of my ilk than I know.

I will likely vote Democratic for the sole reason that I want a Democrat to appoint the next Supreme Court justices.  Beyond that, I feel unmoved.

Am I too idealistic to expect a presidential campaign to be a parsing of the most critical issues facing the nation, our hemisphere and or world?  Is it just weird of me to think that candidates might speak with soft voices as they ponder the complexity of geopolitics, ecology, poverty, health, education, the electronic revolution, etc, etc? 

Because I do not truck in vague generalizations, loud incriminations, blatant verbal assaults and uncured baloney, the debates and TV ads and telephone calls and mailbox flyers count as less than nothing.

In case you think that I can’t be pleased, let me say that my own state of Indiana, while rightly criticized for its current right wing conservatism, has produced many fine political leaders such as are not running for office today.  Mayor Bill Hudnut. Senator Richard Lugar. Mayor Bart Peterson. Purdue University President and former governor Mitch Daniels. Representative Lee H. Hamilton. Representative Julia Carson. Representative John Brademan. Senator Birch Bayh. Where are such among today’s candidates? 

Has the glory departed? 


January 28, 2016

In yesterday’s blog, I was joking only in part. There comes a time when a senior must decide whether to dispose of the “what-nots” accumulated over a lifetime or leave that task to someone else.

My own response to this question is informed by (1) a book, (2) examples and (3) a professional organization dedicated to the disposition or clearance of a senior’s possessions before or after they die.

Marie Kondo in the life-changing magic of tidying up writes “Don’t misunderstand me. Giving things you can’t use to others who can is an excellent idea. Not only is it economical, but it can also be a source of great joy to see these things being treasured by someone close to you. But that is not the same as forcing things onto your family members because because you bring yourself to discard or donate them. Whether the victim is a sibling, a parent, or a child, this particular custom should be banned.”

Of examples there are many. Most vivid to me was the event where grown children gathered to dispense with their elderly parents belongings. Most things were thrown into  a dumpster. Few things, very few, were kept.

In a second example, father who accumulated rentals through his adults years decided to give up the business and then was surprised and nearly hurt when his children did not want those properties, even if given to them.

The third example comes from an adult woman whose mother, with considerable eagerness, took her to the attic to show her finally a special gift — the little cradle she was first rocked in. Now it can be yours, said the 90-year-old mother. Her daughter accepted the gift, but had no emotional or home decorative use for the cradle.

The professional organization emphasizes in its counsel that one’s children appreciate being gifted with a memento, but usually are not at a place in their lives when they wish to assume furniture and boxes of papers from their parents nor do they have time to dispose of it.

Nobody but nobody wants my college lecture notes that I worked so hard to write. On my shelf are books that inspired me, but many of those tomes speak to the zeitgeist of the 1950s or 1960s. My mother’s thread rooster and the old peck measure from marketing days and Grandma Hess’s photo album of her friends mean something to me, but my offspring, even if they become history buffs, will find minimal “content” in these items. Only a fraction of my photos will endure.

Yes, I can quickly identify those objects that brighten my life and will, I’m rather sure, delight my children or grandchildren.  Those items are safely preserved.

And yes, I can quickly identify those things that can’t possibly be appreciated or sought by anyone tomorrow or ten years from now. Those things are headed to the Habitat Resale Shop, Salvation Army and the dumpster.

It’s the stuff in between that motivates this blog.


January 27, 2016

Can’t imagine you are interested, but yesterday I made a pile.

  • a 1993 daybook
  • a file folder of cards received in 1978
  • a box of film negatives shot  in the 80s
  • a handful of small sea shells
  • a miniature red metal wagon
  • a dozen empty checkbook boxes
  • a handful of Manilla folders tabbed and retabbed
  • a three-ringed binder of grad school research papers
  • a half-dozen or so grading books
  • a ream of photo paper that fades quickly
  • a shoe box jammed with discs we haven’t listened to for a decade
  • a shelf of Zip files
  • a folder of long out-dated receipts
  • a cardboard box filled with empty three-ring notebooks
  • a map of a place we’ll never visit
  • a tea pot
  • a head light for a walker
  • a novel that will never be published
  • a cartridge for a printer I no longer have
  • a fist of torn envelopes
  • a book I read recently that I didn’t like enough to pass along
  • a basket
  • a dated atlas
  • a telephone directory from a decade ago
  • a carton or five of notes my children will never read

Today, will I throw it out?

The neighbors

January 26, 2016

In response to the simple act of driving the snow blower up and down Ora’s sidewalk, she baked a spectacular pecan pie for us.


The snow blower has special powers. Last week Shirley brought over a dozen coffee dunkers.

Anybody else want me to clear their sidewalks?

Words from Thoreau

January 25, 2016

I have travelled a good deal in Concord; and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me to be doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways.

Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously course labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there, but to transact some  private business with the fewest obstacles.

I made no haste in my work, but rather made the most of it.

I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime.

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

Though the view from my door was still more contracted, I did not feel crowded or confined in the least. There was pasture enough for my imagination.

Every morning was a cheeful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.

God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages.