Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Salute

Creek Running North, Chris Clarke's magnificent blog, ends its five-year run today.

Thank you, Chris. Thank you so very much.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Ruth and Mrs. Peterson are excused from this admonition, but, for the rest of you:

HEY! Are you ever going to visit PicShers, or what? I've been busily posting a picture a day over there, and that due diligence deserves at least a daily snore from you guys, hey?

For Ruth: a picture of me in Myrtle Beach, 1958.

C'mon now. Especially anybody who might be, oh, I don't know, related to me.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Ordinary Day in May

Last year’s ordinary day in May was followed by a significantly extraordinary one. I don’t anticipate that this one will be so eclipsed.

Chris with Emma and Kelsey

The most noteworthy thing about today in Ft. Harrington was that our longtime UPS delivery guy, Chris, delivered his last package to us. His “last package” as in his last delivery, period, to anybody. He is retiring, and saved his last package (a chaise frame, in the cardboard box) for Ft. Harrington. The dogs love him, and vice versa, clearly.

The second most noteworthy thing about today in Ft. Harrington is that our garden roses have started blooming:

But they were preceded by the wild ones – a strain of pink vine roses that permeates this valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They bloom only once a year, in May, but when they do, they festoon the whole valley in a lovely extravagance. Here’s one of those wild vines, one next to our largest shed :

After sunset, when yard work was no longer on my plate, I scanned a few photos from the brown box. I’m going at it in a brute-force order: from the top of the pile in the box on down toward the bottom. Adam wants to go through the box’s contents, and when he does, maybe we’ll come up with a more logical order. But, for the time being, it’s pretty much random:

Adam on the day of his 6th grade graduation, 1982.

Sherwood and Doug applauding Adam’s high school graduation.

Sherwood and Mary Marsh, Australia, 1986.

Mary Marsh (nee Porter) was one of the clients on the ASP’s Australia astronomy tour for Halley’s Comet in 1986, and she and I hit it off pretty well. This photo is from the end of the tour, in Cairns. Mary’s stepfather was Rogers Hornsby, a Hall of Fame baseball player, and a notorious curmudgeon. Mary transcribed his last two books from his spoken words, and, after the Australia tour, sent me a couple of tokens from her collection:

Good luck, Chris! And bless you, Mary, wherever you are.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

... Cloudy Dreams, but Real

Highway to Kata Tjuta, April 1986

Two of you (and you know who you are) have been checking in on PicShers frequently since it started two months ago. Those two wonderful folks have, no doubt, noticed that the pictures’ dates are either before 1965 or after 1999. There are multiple reasons for that, none of which I’ll go into right now.

But that’s about to change.

In this entry of PicShers, I reproduced a photo of me taken by a now-famous professional photographer, Roger Ressmeyer. Problem was, the only copy I had was a damaged print that had been clamped in an oval frame since 1989. I went searching for another copy, and, in an attic here in the Fort, found it in a bonanza box:

An attic of my life

Hidden up in the rafters, unopened in at least ten years, was this plastic box. It contains hundreds of photos and negatives, ones I had lost track of. Since 1965 and until the digital age, my “serious” photography was all monochrome, hand-processed. Occasionally, though, I’d run a roll of color print or slide film through my old SRT-101 (yes, the same camera body served me for those decades), or I’d have a roll of Tri-X that I didn’t want to hassle with in the darkroom. Those rolls went to the drugstore, or werherever, and were then stashed away in this box. And then forgotten.

I’m going to be spending a lot of time scanning the box’s contents for a good long while now. Here are a few early returns:

Adam at a company picnic for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, circa 1984.

Adam and Doug at Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, 1981.

Violist and magazine production savant Janet Doughty, Oahu, mid-80’s.

Bush cracker plane, 1986 {click to read the logo.)

Roger’s picture of me.

The photo that triggered the search was the above snapshot. Roger Ressmeyer had been a paying participant in a two-week astronomical tour of Australia in 1986, timed for the closest approach of Halley’s Comet, for which I was one of two astronomical “experts.” (Roger, then, was just at the beginning of his career, having had some success as a San Francisco rock scene photographer, but anxious to branch out into other areas, especially space science.) By the time we reached Cairns at the end of the tour, we were all just completely worn out, and we had a few days of rest and relaxation programmed in before flying back to the US. Roger and I and many others took a ferry out to the Great Barrier Reef, and on the way he borrowed my camera. Once.

He pressed the shutter button once, and once only, and handed the old Minolta back to me.

Most readers of SherWords can’t know this (of course Adam can, though), but that one press of the button produced the best photo of me – in ways more important than whether or not it’s “flattering” – ever taken.

That’s what makes Roger and others of his ilk special, no matter what their medium happens to be. The rest of us can come up with a good, even special, product after great effort and iteration. The greats start iterating where we are satisfied.