Saturday, August 28, 2010

Night of Music

Next Friday night, I will be having my second photography exhibit at the Long View Center in downtown Raleigh. The theme of the show is "Music" and what a night of music it will be. Both Carl and I have chosen our best shots around the theme, there will be live music, and the storytellers that follow the reception at Tell It! will incorporate music into their stories.

The live music will be played by my husband; Frank, a guitar player who plays in a band with him; and Billie Jean Snuggs, a woman who has about the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. To hear her sing is to be moved to another sphere where sound is transformative. She sings from her heart and her soul.

Music has been an important part of my life. I love almost every kind except dirty rap as I call it, and have it playing from the time I get up to the time I settle in for the night. I listen to classical, soul, and New Age music most of the time, but will throw in disco and country and gospel when I need a lift.

I'm looking forward to this wonderful night of music displayed in our art, our spoken word, and with instruments and voices. It will be just the high I need.

Friday, August 20, 2010

In the Darkroom

Twice this month I've been able to go into the darkroom at Sertoma Arts Center. I've taken some old square black and white negatives that I found at my dad's house.

It takes about thirty minutes to get set up. My friend Jen has the chemicals ready, but I have to check my enlarger, timer, filter, and lens to make sure they're all working properly and are what I need for the negatives I'm using. There's always some kind of problem. For instance, last night, the enlarger I usually use had some kind of pink light coming down, and we couldn't figure out what was causing it. So I moved one station down. That enlarger had more light openings than I am used to so I had to fiddle with the dial so that I could choose F-stops in the mostly dark room. Then my timer was giving me four seconds for a three-second setting.

Finally I had everything ready to turn out the lights. I went into the lighted room and started looking through the negatives trying to decide which one to start with. I could tell that one of them was of children in their Halloween costumes, so I started with it.

Once you've chosen your negative, you put it in a slide carrier and focus it. Then you do a test print, exposing the paper to the light in three or five second intervals. You develop the test strip to find the best time and setting for the print. All of this takes anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. So by the time you actually develop your first print, you've spent around forty-five minutes in the darkroom.

There's nothing quick about the process. Your print takes one minute, one minute, three minutes, and three minutes in four different chemicals. On a good night, like last night, I may get four copies of four negatives.

I know I could just take all the negatives to a film processing place and get prints in a day. But there's something so magic about the darkroom process. In this case, I'm taking negatives from photographs my dad took over fifty years ago. He lined us up in our costumes or with our grandparents and great-grandparents, caught an uncle and baby cousin opening Christmas presents. One of the photographs I did last night is of a one-year-old me, sitting between my great-grandparents. Our love for each other shines through the print.

It is an act of meditation to develop pictures this way. As I said on Facebook last night, "In the darkroom, the past emerges."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday the Thirteenth

Normally, I stare straight at Friday the 13th and spit in its eye, but after yesterday, I'm gathering lucky pennies and four-leaf clovers and throwing salt over my shoulder next time one rolls around. Here's what happened:

Back in 2000, when things were rolling along nicely at our company, we splurged and bought a 1978 sport fishing boat. We named her Coatimundi after a reggae song we liked. Here she is:

The boat has about 200 SF on it. There is a salon/galley combination, a V-berth that sleeps two, a small bathroom with a toilet and a shower. We have used this little sweet boat so much. But lately with all that has been going on with my dad, we haven't been down much.

This weekend we decided to go, take the boat over to Bald Head Island, and have a little R&R. Time spent on the boat is time spent forgetting your troubles. So we packed food, clothes, linens from our last trip, books, videos, unread newspapers and left around 3:00.

When we opened the door to the boat, we realized that the AC wasn't working. The boat was hot and stale smelling. We decided to head on over to BHI and work on the boat there. When we disconnected the power cord, it was black like it had been burned. Not good.

The boat was shimmying and shaking on the way over and we figured the props were covered with barnacles from the boat sitting so long. We called the diver to come clean them. Easy fix.

At the BHI slip, we couldn't get the power to come on. We called the marina; no answer. Called the ferry terminal and they said they'd send over a supervisor. We were hot and getting grouchy and when he didn't show up after thirty minutes, we decided to head back to the home port. So we disconnected and untied and took off.

Once we were re-settled at the dock, we couldn't find the toolbox. Now remember, this is a space of around 200 SF and the toolbox is 2' x 3' at least, but it was nowhere to be found. So at 10:30 we headed over to WalMart and bought tools. I talked my husband into letting me buy a fan; he's always saying I'm going to sink the boat with all the things I bring aboard!

Back at the boat, my husband crawled into the engine room, which is about three feet tall. He has to be a contortionist to get into it, and I couldn't get in if the Yankees were coming. He got the AC running, but only warmish air was coming out. We waited, wiping sweat and swatting mosquitoes, but the air never got cool.

Around midnight, we realized that the AC wasn't going to work, and that without AC there wasn't going to be any R&R on the Coatimundi, so we packed food, bags, books, newspapers, DVDs, sweaty clothes and wet shoes into our air-conditioned car and headed home.

We arrived at 3 a.m., exhausted. Our cats were very confused. Audrey thought we were getting up for the day and stood at the door wanting to go out. Chippy followed us around meowing loudly as only a deaf cat can, ready for breakfast. We ignored them both, took our showers and fell into bed.

The good news is that it can all be fixed. The bad news? Have you ever paid to fix a boat? But I love that little vessel, and I'll forgive her one more time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Something to Say

One of my faithful readers said she was worried because I haven't posted lately. I'm glad she missed me.

I haven't written because I felt that writing about my dad would be boring to you, and yet everything else seems too trivial to talk about. I'm busy, along with my siblings, with the business of the estate and cleaning out my dad's house and all the emotions surrounding that. I can go days without crying and then spend a day trying not to burst into tears at anything and everything.

Many times, I'll be crying, really crying hard, and the sound of my crying makes me stop. It feels foreign. I'm not familiar with it like I am the sounds of my voice or my laugh. That's good, isn't it?

Two months ago things seemed very scary. My dad was in the hospital with the broken hip, I had a questionable lump in my breast, and our business was in a very precarious situation. In their own ways, all of these things have been resolved. My father has died, but isn't suffering and never had to go a nursing home. He really lived until he died. My breast cancer has been removed and the next steps don't seem too scary. Our business is stable and we're busy. In the midst of the sad news of my dad's death, there is the comfort of friends and a new closeness between my siblings. There is the kindness of nurses and doctors. There is the support of my husband and children.

I see a picture of my dad or hear his voice on my answering machine and I just ache that I'll not see him again in this lifetime. But when the strangeness of the sound of my crying stops me, I take time to give thanks for where I am right now.