Getting back to yoga

Many years ago when my children were small and my office was not in my home and my life was far more complicated than it is now I decided to take a yoga teacher training class and add teaching yoga to the list of things I had to do. I loved practicing yoga, and for a while after that I loved teaching it, too. I taught for several years and then burned out, even though by the time I stopped teaching I was already working from a home office. But there were still deadlines to meet and growing kids to drive around to so very many activities and it all was just one big swirl. Something had to go.

I stopped practicing yoga pretty much. Every now and then, here or there, I’d take a class or roll out my yoga mat at home, but I didn’t do it often enough to have a regular practice.

Just this past November an absolutely beautiful studio opened up so close to my house that I couldn’t ignore the siren song of the things I loved best about yoga, like the retreat into my own mind and body that happens in a supportive studio with excellent instructors, the breakthroughs that happen with a regular practice, the way my language changes about myself when I am being kind and loving toward my body while practicing yoga. And when I say “so close” I mean I can walk there in just about 6 minutes flat–5 if I’m running late. Nope, no excuses not to get back to it.

I’ve been maintaining a practice at this studio for just over three months. We practice flow sequences in a room heated to 90°, a delicious sweat-fest. I’m dripping 10 minutes into a power flow class, and loving every second. I’m already starting to think about how much I will miss this place when I am on the lake in the summer, where I’ll just have to cue Jennifer, Kate, Katie and the other teachers’ gentle voices in my head as I create my own flow.

The light in this second floor studio is one of its best features. On a corner, with windows facing both south and east, window light spills across the floor most of the day. Jennifer, the owner, let me make use of this gorgeous light to take some photos for a class assignment, and I chose her Tibetan singing bowls and the light and shadows as focus. I took these with my Minolta X-700 and Kodak T-Max 400 ISO film, my first time with this film. I developed the roll and scanned these images myself.

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Unusual weather we’re having

I think the lion says that line, in Wizard of Oz. When they’re running through the poppies and it starts snowing, maybe? I’m not certain. But it’s appropriate because February has been really odd, mostly, and now the trees are actually blooming, and you don’t need a coat to go anywhere. In February. I don’t want to complain, but I didn’t get to snowshoe yet this year. And, this stuff messes up the whole fruit season. We can’t have that.

Unusual weather, unusual cameras, unusual times.

In December I took part in a secret santa gift exchange for people who shoot film. I sent a bunch of film to a guy in Germany, and oddly the person who sent my gift (a different person than who I sent my gift to) was also in Germany. My gift took a while, but I was so excited at the end of January when I got some expired film, a Lomography baby fisheye (and they mean baby, this thing is so tiny!) with a cartridge of 110 film, plus some other awfully sweet goodies.

Although there’s been a lot of gray this month, there’s also been some color. The Luminosity installation in Detroit, for instance. The blue sky, the golden dried grasses on the marsh. Red hydrants, blue buildings, murals. Good news kind stuff. Good surprises. All colorful.

The expired film colors are a little funky, but I’m digging them. I shot this roll of 2007-expired Minolta 200 ISO film on a gorgeously warm evening on the marsh.

This unseasonable weather business makes people happy. Well, it makes me happy. It makes me start thinking about what’s next. The spring. Hopeful things. New adventures. Like, a trip (I have one brewing). I’m about to enter the age of saying yes. Ask me if I want to go somewhere with you… I’m most likely going to say yes.

Yes to weird cameras. Yes to new experiences. Like this silly, plastic, double-wide Lomography Sprocket Rocket, which might be my favorite new thing.

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Yes to color. Yes to adventure.

Are you saying yes to anything these days?

Learning

When did February get to be such a busy month? I thought February was for being homebound. Making soup. Staying in, cuddling with the dog. It’s not really working like that this year. I don’t mind busy, but if you know me in person, you’ll know that I can do busy for only so long and then I need downtime. Like parties, socializing, being around too many people… I dig it, but I need to be in my own headspace for more time than I’m out of it.

But the mild weather has made it easy to have been outside this month. Plenty. With cameras. Lots of cameras. Weird cameras. A tiny little Baby Lomo Fisheye that was secret-santa gifted to me that came all the way from Germany. A medium format camera borrowed from my kid. A Lomo Sprocket Rocket, because it sounded fun. Color film sent off for developing (hoping to get that back next week) and black and white film that I developed last night.

So, developing. It’s not hard… but it’s tricky. I mean, to do it right takes some patience and finesse. And I seem to be prone to doing it wrong. Last night I popped the lid off of the canister during the developing process. I just did it, popped it right off in between the fixer and the stopper phases. Not fatal, but not great. And the printing and enlarging… oh my, I’m not good at this. I didn’t get a single print or contact sheet I was happy with last night.

Disappointment isn’t a deal-breaker, though, it’s an opportunity to learn.

Anyway. Some stuff I developed last night, then brought home and scanned (which although is a pain in the ass in itself is actually easier than enlarging and printing in the darkroom, at least for me, at the moment). Water marks and dusty bits and all. Medium format just below, then 35mm after that.

Fog, film, foray

That foggy day last week warranted an entire roll of film, much of it used in my neighborhood.

Fog changes everything. The familiar is unfamiliar. There’s a lack of color, a mystery about things, a mood. A little eerie, maybe, to some. All I know is I could hardly wait to get to class last night. I had three rolls of film to develop–my first foray into developing my own film.

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foggy pier and reflection (+ water spots from developing), Kodak Tri-X 400, Minolta SRT 102

We learned how to work in total darkness, working shoulder to shoulder, cracking open our film canisters with can openers and carefully, blindly, passing scissors to each other. As far as I know there was no bloodshed. And then the processing, this part in the light, fortunately… we poured chemicals together, agitated our film- and chemical-filled canisters, chatted in between watching our timers, fretted about possible mistakes, encouraged each other, watched as images magically appeared.

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restaurant terrace in fog, Kodak Tri-X, Minolta SRT 102

The whole process was easier than I expected, and honestly a lot less smelly than I expected. I like that my class consists of mostly people younger than me, with a few my age or older. Some who’ve never touched a camera, some with years of experience or past experience, and some who have taken the class multiple times solely for open use of the darkroom. There is learning and teaching to be had here, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.

Pervasive fog

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We woke up to a fog yesterday that never diminished. It blanketed my riverside town and persisted even into the early hours of this morning. Today calls for more rain and fog, I guess the result of unseasonably warm January temperatures.

I don’t think I’ve touched my digital camera in more than a month now–maybe longer. While I did shoot a roll of black and white film yesterday, I wanted some images I could see right away, so my DSLR went into my bag. My friend Jane and I drove to some of our favorite local natural spots to wander, get muddy, laugh, see things through our foggy lenses.

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Why yes, I’ve been drinking

I ignored the inauguration today.

There, I said it. I admit it. I listened to classical music today while I worked. Arcangelo Corelli, Bach, Vivaldi. Light, cheerful stuff. Stuff that’s centuries old, from composers long gone, from a time of tenuous politics possibly not unlike today’s politics. Different actors, different times.

We had friends over for dinner and drank wine tonight, too much, talked a little about current events but not a whole lot. Touching on the things we worry about, our kids, their futures.

I’m torn between wanting to scream and shout and rally against what I see as a shocking turn of events for my country and ignoring what’s happening, retreating to my bubble. But… I have a job that doesn’t stop because I grieve for where we are and the future of the United States. I have an old dog who doesn’t care. I have bills to pay, old cars to maintain, emails to answer, clothes to clean and fold and put away, rooms in my house to unearth, meals to prepare, a life to lead. If there’s one thing I don’t do very well, it’s balance. How do other people do this? How do you register your shock, anger, disappointment and yet still manage a life, a job, hobbies, family?

I’m bad at this.

And yes, yes, yes, I’ve been drinking tonight. I don’t have to make sense.

Tomorrow I’ll attend one of the women’s marches because I feel a need to stand in solidarity. For me, for my daughter, for women who have a bigger stake in what’s to come. I’ll join voices and shout until I’m hoarse. But I still get to come home to a warm house, to food, to an assurance that too many people don’t have. It’s not fair and I know it.

And after tomorrow, I’ll hope. Hope that unqualified appointments surprise us. Hope that love and decency prevail. Hope that insults give way to understanding, and that divides shrink and become traversable. I’ll especially hope that people awaken to dealing with each other with a newfound sensitivity. I don’t know how these things will manifest, or how I will do my part, but I’ll commit. Wine-soaked as I am tonight, I commit to approaching it all with love and understanding. It’s a small start, anyway.

Love letters to the city, part two

More of Detroit’s downtown buildings, these things that make me swoon and forget to look where I’m going.

This time in black and white, also 35mm film. A study in shapes, lines, angles. I took these on both the last day of 2016 and on the first day of 2017, closing out and opening up the new year looking up.

These were shot on two different different Minolta SLR cameras and both with Kodak Tri-X film–an SRT-102 using the suggested film speed (400) and an X-700 pushing the film two stops to 1600. I’m not certain I can tell the difference, but this is my first stab at pushing and I think it might not be my last.

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One Woodward Ave.
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Light beam
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Lines, shadows and reflections
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Westin Book-Cadillac (left, with windows), and the Guardian Bldg. (tall, at right)
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“Transcending”
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Rosa Parks Transit Center
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Rosa Parks Transit Center

Love letters to the city

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One Woodward Ave., Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100

Oh, Detroit.

You’re not what you were. You won’t be the same tomorrow, either. You had a heyday, you declined, then a recession. Today, a resurgence. You are loved and loathed, fought over, talked about, dismissed, underestimated, maligned, deified, abandoned, thriving. Through it all, you stand tall. You’ve got chops. You are what we make of you, but you have your own heart and our stories don’t define you.

I didn’t appreciate you when I grew up in your suburbs. I left; you called me back. Today I honor you–your shape-shifting, your grit, your perseverance.

So nice, I like you twice.

I took these double exposures on a sunny and not-so-cold New Year’s Day. Seemed a perfect way to honor the old and ring in the new.

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Penobscot Bulding, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100
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Federal Building, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100
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Westin Book Cadillac, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100
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Book Tower, Minolta SRT-102, Kodak Ektar 100

Don’t believe what they say about 50

I’m serious. Just don’t.

I just turned 50, and after a week of surprises and a big gift from my brother and brother-in-law and all the stars essentially aligning to create some kind of crazy halo–I swear it–right above my silver-tressed head, my husband threw me one bang-up of a party.

The people I love came, one all the way from Chicago. My best friend cleaned bathrooms (that’s love, cleaning someone’s bathroom). My dad came. My two dearest friends helped me clean and put cheese out and and helped bake and laid everything out on the table just perfectly and were both like tornadoes (and I mean this in the best way ever). We had the best food. If we do anything right around here, it’s the food. We made some of it (cakes, cupcakes, orzo salad and quinoa salad, a Swiss chard erbazzone) and had some amazing stuff we didn’t make (samosas, savory and sweet pies, expensive cheeses) and oh I can’t even remember what else. Booze. Plenty of booze, and no scrimping there.

I will say in all honesty that my 50th birthday party knocked every other birthday celebration out of the park, although the birthdays my parents threw me in our basement when I was a kid, with balloons, friends around a picnic table, my mom’s cakes and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey are a distant second (and a distant memory). You know what I wore? Bare feet, that’s what I wore. And no one even batted an eye. And a comfortable dress. I was totally myself. The invite said no gifts, but the gifts came anyway. Who deserves that? I didn’t think I did. But oh man, the love I felt has me fuller than a huge pasta dinner. It’s going to last all year, I know it.

50 is the new 30. 50 is the bomb. 50 kicks ass. I think this is going to be one hell of a decade.

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I didn’t die, I just turned 50. No biggie.

User error

Or, happy accidents.

I had trouble loading a roll of Ilford HP5 into my Pentax K1000 just about this time last year. I loaded and reloaded and remember reloading it again. I wasn’t sure the film was advancing correctly while I was shooting, and eventually I just stopped shooting, rewound the film and took it out.

And then I forgot about it for months, until I handed it to my son to develop at school. I was right… it hadn’t advanced correctly at all. I forgot about the negatives until I was clearing out a bit of junk in my office a few days ago and almost threw out the film canister that contained the negatives.

I’m still working on figuring out the best settings for my scanner, but I think the resulting accidental double, triple, and maybe more exposures are at least interesting.

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blinds, light and shadow, old theater
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underbelly of a bridge, river, trees
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trees, light and shadow on wood stairs
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lift +