It’s A Clean Machine

A thousand slides can make you feel like you're a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Dad’s images of a Cape Canaveral launch from 1975, including a surprising number of boats, which were in space, but not the same way.

Starting sometime in 1963, Dad started photographing everything: his wife, his children, the neighbors, street lights, college classmates, train tracks, rockets, places he went, birds, plants, boats, statues, co-workers, bonfires, bodies of water. When he died, a mountain of his work moved to my apartment. Since July, I’ve scanned and uploaded about 2,000 images to a private Flickr museum of these images. It’s an ambitious project, facing a number of obstacles.

First: some slides were originally developed with dates and numbers, some with just dates or numbers, some with no dates or numbers. Second: Dad kept over 800 mixed slides in carousels, rather than dark plastic containers, and in these less than ideal conditions, some slides have faded or developed mildew damage. Third: at some point, my stepmom Summer labeled a bunch of plastic slide containers, which may save my sanity; unfortunately, about a decade’s worth of slides were stored together, which may send me round the twist. Fourth: a few years ago, the digitizing company I paid to scan slides essentially poured separate groups of slides into a machine and I have yet to undertake separating them because I panic every time I think about it.

Despite all this, I’ve made progress. I’ve started to recognize pictures that must have been taken at the same time, significant places and faces I haven’t seen since childhood. My father was 21 and my mother 22 when I was born, and these images start before I was a year old. It is strange now to see my parents as young twenty-somethings, to witness my father’s learning to see the world and his life through the camera’s lens. In these pictures, I see that we, his children, were photographed constantly and were completely accustomed to it. I don’t remember being photographed constantly, so in some ways, it’s like looking at someone else’s life with my face.

There’s another obstacle: not all of the slides are here. Enough dated and numbered slides are present to render obvious the gaps. Where are these missing slides? I don’t know. Summer doesn’t remember Dad mentioning them. I don’t know what that means, or what it would ultimately mean if thousands of images were just missing.

At this stage in a blog post, I usually make a joke about how some ginormous thing in my life is totally small, except in this case, that’s too literal. This ginormous thing in my life is meaningless to all but a handful of people on the planet, and even they don’t really seem to care much. So I am doing this because I can and I should, to the best of my ability. When I’m done, I’ll store the slides as permanently as I can, but I doubt anyone will ever look at them again. Dad would have been as surprised as anyone else that there could be a private museum of his photographs, and for that reason alone, I will keep building it.

 

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The Night Belongs To Us

Jarring is not alarming!

I stepped over a bag on my way in and out of the house for over a week before I realized that is a bag where no bag should be, which no doubt has meaning, and maybe I should look into that, and then I found these. Because when everyone knows you jar stuff, people leave jars and hope you find a recipe for homemade Irish cream.

The exam for my art history class is tomorrow at noon. Looking at art and examining my own ideas about history and pre-history has been interesting and challenging, but we’ve come to the point where I’m supposed to remember 45,000 years of objects and buildings. My brain doesn’t function that way, so the exam’s a crapshoot. If the instructors put objects on the exam I remember and thought were really cool, I’m golden. If not, well, I spent the semester looking at art. I can’t wait to put this behind me.

Did You Know You Did

I’m reading a basic college art history textbook. It’s full of interesting words that don’t make good sentences. A typical paragraph is one I only re-read a couple of times, but I’ve re-read a few whole pages like I have a new hobby.

Get glasses, Alice.

Either Christmas light season is under way or Pete needs his eyes checked. I’m betting on the lights.

Example: “[Some guy] was the architect on the [blah blah] temple, first to use [some damn thing] to [I give up, what?]. Never before had [architectural features] done [some remarkable crap we thought was invented in 1850, because we are slow children.]

It has crossed my mind that maybe I’m reading badly filled out Madlibs with gorgeous pictures.

 

 

He Turns Down the Street

Cute little murder monster

Baby trash panda looks totally adorable when not lunging for me.

The raccoons have been gently evicted from the eaves of our house and relocated to a more rural locale. We hope for the best for them, but at least one did not have the best survival instincts. Fingers crossed, they live┬álong, happy lives, full of delightful and mysterious leftovers. We hope so, but they couldn’t stay here. Pete found one of the babies inside the chicken run, nibbling chicken food, near very alarmed chickens, so that had to be the end of that.

 

I have one more week of American Sign Language class. Earlier this evening, I suddenly realized I’d acquired enough of the basics to tell a story. As you know, stories are my thing; being able to tell a story is kind of hip, kind of cool, kind of Charlie. Tomorrow, I’m going to tell a story in class, which would be much like tearing off my Foster Grants to reveal my superhero identity, but since I am a middle-aged person, I have zero doubt my young classmates will notice a bird, a plane, Superman.