From My Perspective

151106 (1)

Okay, there are some things I need to say.

Everyone needs to calm down.

I have a confession and possibly some internal insight to share.  The first election I voted in was in 1976 – Carter/Ford.  I voted Republican and we all know how that turned out.  I voted Republican in every election until Barack Obama ran.  He ran on hope and change.  I thought we needed change in a pretty big way, besides John McCain had pretty much lost his mind and Sarah Palin was his running mate.  Yeah.   I didn’t vote for either candidate this past Tuesday.  I was informed when I went to the polls, I voted for every other representative and the state referendums but I broke into a sweat, felt a little dizzy and stayed in that booth for way longer than I should have. (I was the only one there and all of the poll takers know me, they must have wondered).  I looked at the candidates (all of them) and thought I simply can’t do it.  Do I regret it?  No.

The other confession is I once believed social media to be a good thing.  On the night of 9/11 the internet was really in its infancy.  We had dial-up and chat rooms.  Somehow I ended up in a chat room for the employees of Cantor Fitzgerald and there was a man pleading to hear from anyone he knew and worked with there.  There was silence.  It was the most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced – it made it real for me in a way that nothing else did.

Fast forward to the year 2016 and I can tell you that my circle of friends on social media has gotten much smaller.  One of the reasons is politics, yes but the other is the things that are patently untrue that continue to circulate as truth.  I confess that I can be a bit of a pain in the ass when it comes to this sort of thing calling stuff out and spending time on Snopes but is this really how I want to spend my time?  I’ve also realized in the past few days that all it is doing is inciting anxiety and fear in everyone who faithfully (or obsessively) checks their status hour by hour.  Yes, guilty as charged.

The day after the election was awful, two days after still bad.  Today the armchair quarterbacking continues as we all try to come to grips with the election results and what it means.

Here’s the thing, we need to stop looking at the election of Donald Trump as the end, it’s not.  We need to take a rest from this frenzy of posting at all (or reading). The friends and family that I have on social media are still people I care about but I need to  be part of their lives in a different way.  We need to gather our friends and neighbors together and build a community of help and service.  Break bread together, have a game night, stop living in your home in isolation.  Volunteer for anything that will help you to know someone new a little better.  Person to person contact, have a real conversation.  Yes, it may be about politics but it takes on new meaning when you talk to someone face to face.  How many times have you sent an email or comment that someone took in a way that was not intended?  You need to see a person’s body language or hear the inflection in their voice.  Better yet look into their eyes.

Today I’ll work a little in my garden, weave a little and then prep to visit my grandson to help celebrate his first birthday.  So many children have come into my life in the past couple of years.  I think we owe it to them to help build a community that will support them without all of the anger.  We are all better than this.

Saving and Sharing Those Photographs

Dad and MimMy grandmother with my father.  I can hear her laughing in the photograph.

With the temperature this morning hovering above zero and it having been that cold for what seems like forever more and more projects are sadly being started indoors.  It’s usually about this time of year when small things start outdoors and move into the bigger spring things.

The past few days have seen a plethora of collections of old photographs being shared with me on social media.  All of them are old and people have had to scan them.  A cousin commented on how wonderful it was that we had all of these hard copies (pre 1950) to share and wondered about how this would continue.  My entire career in photography was based on film.  If in color another lab would process and print it, if black and white hours were spent in a darkroom.  All along the whole process there was something I could hold in my hand.  My negatives were filed meticulously by date and subject and I can still put my hands on them if I need to find something.

With the dawn of the digital age and my activity in it I have had to deal with keeping and finding my files in a whole new way.  I still file everything by date (even though each image is time stamped), then each year is filed in its own folder.  I then make copies of my files and keep them on portable hard drives – sorry, I can never be too careful.  To add another layer at the end of every year I go through all of the files of photographs for that year and pick the best – the ones that would hurt me to lose.  I have them printed and bound into a book.

I started doing that with my first digital camera probably in the late 90’s.  I can’t say that we look at them a lot but they are there and I like having them.  It’s really no different than all of those black and white photos my mother glued onto the black paper of her scrapbooks (or her mother before her).

What I consider the most wonderful part of this digital age of photography is the ability to share all of it – new and old – with your friends and family.  Long ago I scanned almost all of the collections of family photographs as a way of preserving them, putting them in chronological order and sharing them.  I’ve found I have a profound reaction when seeing photographs of my loved ones from long gone that I have never seen before.  This has been made possible through the internet and social media.  My great aunt passing spawned something that started out as a way for people to bond, share their loss and find joy in knowing those that are no longer with us. All of that happened but now it is helping us all to have a better understanding of who we are as individuals.  Genealogy does that to some extent but this puts faces to the stories and the stories are told as the photographs are shared, by mulitiple people.  It’s like sitting in a room with all of your relatives (many I have never even met) talking about people that you loved.  You get so many different perspectives and then you learn that so and so’s child looks just like her Memere.  It’s pretty great.

Today the take away for me it that my father’s family loved life and family so very much.  They laughed – a lot.  They were practical jokers and could laugh at themselves.  We remember the French, the broken English and how all of it translated into love of family (whether we understood the words or not).  We are diminished in a way by their passing but in sharing the photos and stories we see that it continues on in ourselves.