Roger Angell…..Splendid At 93

If you are an aspiring writer or “of a certain age” before you do another thing click on this article in the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine.     New Yorker 

Roger Angell is a famous writer of course. His baseball books are probably the best ever written. He has been called that sport’s poet laureate. He has written best-selling fiction and been The New Yorker fiction editor for the likes of John Updike, William Trevor, and Woody Allen. So the man had impeccable credentials, wordsmith street cred if you will.

The recent New Yorker piece is by turns profound, graceful, funny and self-deprecating, but more than that it is wonderfully uplifting for those increasing numbers of us who must confront what it is to be old. Angell is an example, a happy warrior mentor issuing a call to arms to those of us who still want to howl at the moon and get on with living this god damn confusing life the best we can.

Thank you Mr. Angell

Today’s Early Morning Conflict….Clouds vs Sun

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At about 6:30 this morning the heavy clouds outside our window were, here and there, broken up by the sun. It had rained all last night and tonight it’s going to rain harder still, but for a moment the sun struggled into supremacy and the day brightened. We’re still in for a patch of rainy weather here in Petaluma but, aside from the occasional unconscious tourist who will bitch about it, we need every drop we can get.

Beauty By The Side Of The Road

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Walking along the main street into town a few days ago I saw this young magnolia hard by the edge of the much travelled roadway. Cars were streaming by a few feet away, totally unaware of the plant’s lovely blooms.

It reminded me of people, we all know them, who always seem to manage to radiate goodwill and happiness in personal circumstances that most of us would find far from easy.

My wish for today is to remember these flowers and stay mindful of this planet’s bountiful loveliness and pass some of it along.

An Adobe Vanishing Point

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Those always arresting photographs of railroad tracks merging in the distance are often used by art teachers as examples of a perspective’s vanishing point.

The other day we visited the largest adobe building in northern California, an enormous hacienda girdled by long long porches. It’s called the Petaluma Adobe and is now a California state park. The structure was once the home of General Vallejo and the logistic headquarters for his 600,000 acre ranch that is now the city of Petaluma and much of the surrounding area.

I took this photo of my wife Sarah waking way ahead of me and suddenly realized the porch railing and the adobe wall had provided another effective example of a vanishing point.

The photo and the visit made it a double score. 

Looking Through My Antique Window

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There are many ways of seeing things. With intellect, with imagination, with love and as one gets older, these ways invariably take on the patina of age.

That’s not a bad thing really.

In fact it’s helpful.

While old age may take away the sharp, brash clarity of youth, in return it softens ones field of vision and allows the myriad shades of gray to add themselves to the picture. There is better balance that way.

Looking At The World In Black And White

With more time this winter to work on my photography, I am finding an increasing desire to work in black and white. Color is so seductive that a pretty hue on a flower or a sunset can turn my head so completely that I will fudge composition, balance and context just so I can use some gorgeous hue. Color in photography is like using glass in sculpture it can capture the observer so completely that an ordinary work can become special just by its presence.

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Take away color and the photographer’s “wiggle room” is lessened. Tonality assumes a very important role and proper balance becomes critical.

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And even in scenes where color is muted and not likely to cause the photographer or the viewer to misinterpret its importance, taking it away helps emphasise what really is there.

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At Drakes Bay Oyster Company Again!

I would like to thank Ginny Cummings, the manager of Drakes Bay, for her warm welcome and the fun tour of her operation I had the other day.

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Even though my wife and I come from coastal Maine and we do indeed have oyster companies there too, I have never had the chance to look at what goes into producing them up close. I was shown “french tubes”, the poles that the tiny oyster babies cling to as they grow into adulthood.

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I saw older methods where the growing platform is nothing more than a big old oyster shell.

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I met some of the hispanic women who break the individual oysters off from their growing media and get them ready to sell. Some of these ladies have worked at the company for decades.

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And finally I got a lecture on how important it is to keep these shellfish cold so they are at their best when the customer buys them. 

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Which I might add included me again as the first dozen I ate had now grown into a five dozen take home order for my stepson’s birthday party. They were as good as the first bunch. Though I confess that my shucking technique could use some improvement.

Which of course means, I need still more oysters! You know what they say, “practice makes perfect.”

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