A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Parent Child’ Category

Week 2

Week 2

Welcome again to this little blog hop.  I hope you all had fun with it last month and are looking forward to joining in again.  If you missed out on what the First Friday Photo is, let me fill you in.

I wanted to give myself an incentive to get back into photography, something I’ve enjoyed for a few years now but always set aside for “more important” things much the way I’ve often done for my writing.  Since I found bloghops helped inspire me to get more words on the page, I figured “why not make a photoblog hop?”

So I did.

I wanted to start small since I was coming back after months of not even using my camera.  And…  I’ve started taking pictures almost every day since.  I’ve even gotten my son involved, as today’s post demonstrates.

If you’d like to join in with us, here are our rules:


  • post a photo (one you took, please don’t post other people’s work) on your blog
  • include a link to the linky (so visitors can visit each other’s work)
  • add the link to your post to the above linky (so we can find your work)
  • visit other people’s posts

And now to the photos…

I have four pictures today.  All three were taken near the NYS Capitol around midnight (the metadata on the images lists the times as a bit off, since another shot we took of the Albany City Hall carrilon tower shows midnight but the metadata lists the time as 11:17pm.  Guess I need to fix that in the camera… later.

Anyway, to summarize things, this was an experiment. Why?  Because I’ve only taken a few night photos before, and none of them using long exposures or in RAW mode.  My hands shake pretty bad for even normal daytime shots (“essential tremor” runs in my family…  though I don’t know what made it so essential for us to have!!), so long exposure shots even bracing the camera usually result in wild blurs.

However, there’s a lot a tripod and a timer can compensate for:

Fountain at Academy Park, turned off

Fountain at Academy Park, turned off

This shot almost looks like it was taken during the day (I did do some post processing, but not as much as I thought I’d have to…  a bit of white balance adjustment; a bit of trying to remove the glare from the lights of the Capitol).  I posted a larger copy of the image to Flickr if you’d like to see more detail.

I have an old Canon Powershot G5 that gives a “mostly manual” mode that I’ve used.  In auto mode, these  shots would have been close to impossible.  Yes, the camera does allow a decent shutter length (15 seconds), but it doesn’t have anti-shake, and it can’t handle an ISO over 400.  Correction…  it can’t handle an ISO over 100 well.  The image above and the image below we shot at ISO 200, and… well, they’re very noisy images.  No amount of Adobe Photoshop can fix that, it seems.

The best part  was the way his eyes lit up when he did it himself

The best part was the way his eyes lit up when he did it himself

Not that I don’t like these images.  They’re great.  This one my son took.  He set all the settings himself, he picked his target (we could barely see the statue in the dark with the way the lights were aimed—in fact, he took the picture in part to see what it was a statue of), and I think it’s a great photo.  It’s just not a “great” photo in that it came from a mediocre camera.  And I’ll show you why….


Noise...  lots of noise

Noise… lots of noise

See all that speckling in this crop of the larger image? That’s noise. There are ways to reduce the amount of noise in a picture. One, especially with our camera, is to cut the ISO (the camera’s sensitivity to light).  Simply by reducing the ISO from 200 to 100 I was able to affect this change in a different shot (the full-sized image is here on Flickr if you’d like to see it):

Less noise at 100 ISO

Less noise at 100 ISO

This image is actually of a smaller piece than the one above, but the details are clearer.  If I’d wanted to increase my exposure time (this was 6 seconds) I probably could have gotten even less noise out of the shot by going down to ISO 50, but there’s no guarantee of that.  The same amount of light was going to hit the sensor either way…

Still, noise or not, I look at these images and I remember a wonderful evening after writing group where my son and I just had fun exploring the city a bit.  We stopped (because he wanted to read) every single historical landmark post, we chatted, and we both tried something new.  I can’t wait to try it again.

A little family story…

World Suicide Day: Preventing Tragic Loss (reblog, but original post removed from the now defunct site: CommuniCATE)

I grew up in a household where suicide was always felt (my great-grandfather had killed himself… it may sound like that should have been distant, but our family was a very extended one with me living with parents, grandparents and my great-grandmother in the same house). In that house, there was a room no one was supposed to go in, the room he shot himself in. The blood hadn’t even been cleaned after his body was removed and buried. They just closed the door and on rare occasions, someone would shove a box of “stuff” to stack in the room through the door… when the door could be reached. Usually stuff was piled in front of it.

The outside door to that room (it was the original kitchen to the house, and yes, after he died, they just made a second kitchen) overgrew with ivies, the small awning was allowed to just fall off the house, pulling some of the clapboard with it. The window broke and the barn cats would go and nest in there.

I used to want to know why that room was closed up so much. No one talked about it. If I tried to peek a look, either I risked poison ivy itches (not so bad for me, since as a kid I never caught the rash, but horrid for my uncle and grand-father since they could catch it from being around me) or being hollered at…. And the brief peeks I did catch never made much sense. What was so special about a dirty old kitchen filled with boxes and the corpses of mice and birds?

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I’d pieced all the hints together. By then I’d been hospitalized for suicide attempts myself, my uncle had been living on antidepressants, my grand-father had been slowly recovering from alcoholism, …

Suicide does change things.

And for those wondering…   a picture of the house in question.  Of the door, even:


The Old Farm

I have a confession to make.  I stood up a dear friend today.  I didn’t mean to.  I was supposed to go over to his house and hang out with the people in his Changling LARP that is being held at his house (at this minute still at 9:45pm).  Instead, I ended up spending the whole evening writing and posting pages here. Read the rest of this entry »

First off, let me say a very warm welcome to everyone who chose to click that little “Follow” button–old friends and new:  Evan at The Better Man Project, Coral Russel at the Alchemy of Scrawl, Elizabeth Anne Mitchell at Leavekeeping, Shan Jeniah Burton,  Janeen at Words By Design, Natasha Guadalupe at My Novel Writing Adventures & Other Words, Miss Elsie at bowerdiaries, and Studio Brow.  Thank you!

Today I’m mostly in the mood to talk about books.   I just started one you see–Knees Up, Mother Earth by Robert Rankin.  I’m not sure why…I think it was because it was the only thing on my immediate shelves that called itself fiction, at least without me having to get out the key for my paperback collection.  (I use and old VHS tape cabinet for most of my paperbacks; CDs go in the doors; it’s an odd system, but it works for me).  I don’t have a lot of fiction anymore.  When we moved to our present house, I weeded down my book collection to my few favorites and the books I assumed I would need for research.  I thought I would use the local library more than I have.  I used University of Albany‘s library and the Albany Public Library regularly when I lived there.  It didn’t work out, and that’s a long story in itself.  Suffice it to say, I understand the passion books can incite in one, but a librarian should be more welcoming of the idea that people may want to actually taken them off your shelves and look at them; and the library should be open more hours than two days a week for three hours in the afternoon (that actually has changed in the ten years we’ve been here, but habits have become what they are, and I tend to get my books from other places now). Read the rest of this entry »

What makes someone an underachiever?

It’s not as simple as throwing a few descriptive terms into the pot and stirring; I know that much. In this recipe everyone has his or her own specialty, a seasoning blend that stands out, marking one as a true “master of the craft”.

Problem is…it gives everyone who tries it indigestion.

This is the first in what may be a series of posts on paths: the ones we choose and the ones we end up on despite all our intentions.  Nothing here is meant as a criticism to those who were involved in deciding my own path and/or helped direct me to where I am now.  If anything, it’s a living testimony that the things that often seem so very terrible when they occur are the exact things we need. Read the rest of this entry »

My son is home sick today… another night for me of getting up several times to check on him, to soothe tears, and then the (far more annoying) inevitable waking because I didn’t want miss some catastrophe because I’d finally fallen asleep deeply enough to feel rested in the morning.  The end result is that I feel tired and headachey  (disrupted sleep patterns were recognized as one of the two major causes of my migraines; the other was not eating something on a regular schedule).  My son feels pretty good however. Read the rest of this entry »

A small note to a friend of mine inspired this…  She and I haven’t been that close of late, but today, for all the distance or time, miles, and disagreements, I feel so much closer to her than I have for a long time.

It comes down to trusting instincts.  It’s harder than it should be.  To trust comes hard enough for me.  I have trouble trusting myself, let alone most others.  The world seems so very big to me; I seem so very small…  It’s silly really.  I am really that small.  The world doesn’t care one toot about me.  Hooray for me!

I’m starting to see this as a good thing.

Bear with me.  My joy probably seems strange, but it’s real.

It comes from accepting that no one really should care about me either.  Nor should I care about them.  I can choose to care.  Others can choose to care.  Making such a choice gives me something, fulfilling me and my needs, gratifying my own self-interests.  Enlightened self-interest makes the world go around, so to speak.

What does this have to do with trust, or my friend’s note?

Well, I was considering why I keep trying to stay in touch with this friend of mine, even though we are so often at odds.  And the only answer that ever really comes to mind is that I really trust her.  She may piss me off, she may bore me, she may be off on another planet somewhere (figurative speaking — sort of), but barring some stupid crap in high school that all kids try to pull, she’s always done her best to keep her word.  And since I’m a stickler for justified faith ;-D , I like that in a person.

So, when my friend was having troubles with someone in her family — someone that she should be able to trust and feel secure around — because of her choices as a mother,  it brought to mind some similar issue I am having with my own mother.  And how I feel about my own mother….  (this is where instinct come in).

I don’t really like my mother.  My mom is a very standoff-ish type, with strong views on things that she isn’t afraid to forcefeed to you (for your own good of course) if she feels the situation deserves it, but mostly she would rather make faces and scoffing and grunting noises (somehow that just feels so much better to write than “shows her disdain).  But she is my mother.  And despite the unease she inspires in me, years of reinforcement makes me continue to try to build our relationship.

I say “try” here.  Truth is–I have to try to do it.  Otherwise, I tend to just forget she’s still alive.

I don’t forget my father.  For all my father’s flaws, I knew what to expect from him.  He terrified me, but if I ever needed help from him, he was right there fumbling alongside me (or at least offering advice over the phone).  With my father, I always had a sense that he wanted to do the right thing and the best thing, even if he didn’t know often what it was.  And oddly enough, I always knew I mattered to my father.  Or maybe it isn’t all that odd.  All the pictures of my childhood show Dad carrying me on his shoulders.

Or it could be that I’m a mother myself now and I see things in my own mother’s behavior that I’m afraid of in mine.

This is, after all the woman that chase away the horrid “lactation consultant” that I was given at the hospital, when both my son and I were so very frustrated by the “expert’s” poking and prodding and hovering.  My mom was at that point in time my greatest savior, and I was amazed by how she stepped forward and protected us.  Both Dan and I were too tired and emotionally battered by the whole experience (I swear, four full runs of Pitocin should earn a woman an Olympic medal, and her partner a bronze).  Nothing had gone the way we’d wanted, except that we had this beautiful little boy to care for, and this so called expert who had never nursed (let alone have a child) was giving me a guilt trip because she’d never dealt with size J-cups before….

For a time Mom and I were close, but….  maybe there was more unease there than I knew?  maybe because my son hadn’t had the emotional flash of joy and relief that I had he was better able to sense what I’d always felt before about Mom?  Whatever the cause, Marcus was never comfortable around my mother.  Yet, I still felt I should make sure they spent time together.  I tried to bring him to meet with her–he cried a lot whenever she was around.  I tried to let her touch him–he cried more, and I felt queasy.

Only a few months later…  my three month old son, my little snuggle boy….  At one of those little lunch meetings that were usually the only place I felt comfortable meeting Mom with Marcus, we were saying good-bye’s in the parking lot.  I was just getting ready to put Marcus in his car seat, and my mom asked if she could hold him for a moment.  He didn’t want to go and squawked to high heaven.  And after a few seconds, only a few seconds, of “oh, come now, let Grandma hug you” and “Shush“, she slapped him.  I was staggered.  I was horrified.

And worse yet, I knew in my gut that this was wrong, and all I was able to do was take him from her and set him in his carseat….  Heck, I didn’t even cuddle him, stunned little thing.  All I could think of was that I needed to get away from her, and the fastest way to do that was get him buckled in and say “Good-bye.”  I don’t remember exactly what I said.  I know it was along the lines of “I’ve really got to go.  I’ll talk to you later.”  No scolds, no accusations…  I didn’t really know what to say.

So, instincts….  I should learn to trust them more.  But even more than that, I want to write this because there is a woman who I’ve never doubted was a safe person to leave my son with, who in some ways, I trust even more than myself at times with him…

I wanted to write it for a friend.

First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

Short Stuff

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