Friday, August 31, 2012


...Am I a lucky man, or what?

I woke up this morning and went downstairs for my breakfast and I found this: Leah had gotten up early and picked fresh blueberries from our garden and had arranged them on an amazing leaf as a morning surprise for me. I assumed that Leah picked the berries for me to put on granola, but before that could happen I felt I needed to take a photo diary picture. I moved the leaf and berries into several different spots but I didn't labor too long over the set-up because I didn't want the making of the photo to become too big of a deal. A simple, sketchbook-like picture seemed appropriate.

Looking at the resulting image, I am reminded of this: The important things in life are not things, but gestures of human kindness.

I AM a lucky man!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

For Diane

This post is for Diane, a sweet friend who works in the bank here in town. Whenever I go into the bank, Diane enthusiastically tells me “I read your blog!” and she says something complementary about the pictures I posted of our farm animals, or what I wrote about my trip to see my Mom, and Diane makes me feel famous, though for all I know Diane might be my only loyal reader.

I never check blog “hits,” because I don’t do these posts to sell anything, or get famous, so numbers don’t matter to me. If Diane (and, okay, maybe a few other people like her out there in the world) read my posts, that’s good enough for me.

Diane told me this morning that she’s moving to another bank branch in the region, so I’ll no longer see her when I do my banking. That’s kind of sad... but also okay, because Diane and her husband and Leah and I have developed an away-from-work friendship.

So: What pictures to post today for Diane? As I sat down and began typing these few paragraphs, I really hadn’t decided what photographs I’d share, but then the images you see here came to mind. They’ve been sitting on my computer desktop since Spring, but I haven’t posted them. These pictures feel like good offerings for today -- photos I think Diane will enjoy (she’s a pretty easy audience.)

The pictures were shot at our community’s Food Shed, a farm-to-table sustainable food enterprise that is becoming a kind of town meeting-place. An ever-widening circle of locals finds their way to Food Shed where we buy eggs or milk or produce, or we just hang out and talk. Kids play on the tree swing. We visit the cute-as-heck baby goats.

See you at Food Shed, Diane! Let’s go pet us some cute goats!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A little nutty

I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit how weird I am about the weather (and, mind you, I generally try not to get too controlling about things I can't, uh, control.) During the 10-plus months of the year when it is chilly, gray, and raining here in the Pacific Northwest, I exhibit what I suspect is normal, human behavior: I wish for sunshine and warmer temperatures. Now that it’s summer, however, and the weather for several weeks has been what everyone around me considers “nice” or even “perfect,” I’m feeling itchy for the rains to return.

Shorts and t-shirts: Okay, we’ve been there, done that. Temps in the 70’s and 80’s, sunshine, and comfortable humidity: We’ve now done that too. I guess I’m a real Pacific Northwesterner, because I get uneasy if the weather is too good for too long. Gimme some-o-that fleece and rain parka weather.

But once the monsoons return -- and they will return, and it will be sooner rather than later -- I’ll be longing for the days when we hung dish towels outside on the clotheslines to dry...when dinner’s fixings like potatoes or salad greens were gathered fresh from the garden...and when sunflowers were blooming.

Nutty as I am about the seasons, at least I have the good sense to be taking pictures. Some rainy, stormy day in February, these images will help remind me of summer...and then I’ll remember these days as being perfect.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Taking Part

Friends from the Seattle Tibetan community gave me a gift recently, a beautiful Tibetan shirt. My friends were gathering at a staging area at the Seattle Center, lining up to march in the city’s annual Seafair Torchlight Parade. Because the Tibetans were dressed in their celebratory finest and I would be walking along with their group taking pictures, the Tibetans gave me the shirt so that I would better blend-in.

Blending-in felt a bit like a conscious stepping-over-the-line for me. Wearing that shirt as I photographed the Tibetans in the parade was a quiet acknowledgment that, after 30-plus years in newspaper photojournalism -- where I was, day after day, assignment after assignment, a professional observer and a documentarian, but not a participant -- I could no longer even attempt to be unbiased.

It’s been four years now that I’ve been doing pictures of the Seattle Tibetans, and, somewhere along the way, I began thinking of them, not as part of a story I was covering or a photographic project I was doing, but as friends.

That evening when I put on the Tibetan shirt, I became part of the group I was photographing, not someone separate. I thought about my first editor, a colorful fellow of the old school of journalism, who every day preached to his newsroom staff about journalistic ethics and a journalist’s responsibility of fairness and honesty in reporting. In my mind’s eye, my old editor was wagging a judgmental, ethical finger at me, saying “You are no longer one of us. You can’t cover an event and also participate in it.”

And yet... if you look at the pictures I shot that night at the parade, you’ll see the eye of a documentarian. Perhaps Rudyard Kipling was right when he wrote: “Once a priest, always a priest; once a Mason, always a Mason; but once a journalist, always and for ever a journalist.”