Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Switching Blogs

Hello, my (five) loyal readers!

The location of my blog has moved. Now public, some entries will be password protected depending on the topic. If you'd like to be considered for access to those, subscribe to the blog, or let me know via email and I will add you to my blog reader email list for password protected entries

Friday, February 3, 2017

Giant Jerk

I love Harlow, but sometimes she can be an asshole.

A few weeks back I met with a trainer who opened my eyes to something - Harlow's demanding nature is her version of imparting her majesty upon us. Meaning, she wants to be treated like a queen and expects that and demands it of us.

This is why she paws at people to get them to pet her, plops her body into other peoples' personal space, or climbs all over someone and then nudges them with her big fat head if they are not actively petting her in addition to being her throne made of human.

We have been working on much of these things using super yummy dried liver treats. It's tough though because she's so damn smart. If I put treats in my pocket for later, she will immediately start doing "tricks" with hopes of getting the treat. The purpose of treats in my pocket is so I can reward her when she comes to me with a toy and actually responds when I say "drop it" throughout the evening. Instead, she knows I have the treat so she runs and gets a toy, plops it in my lap, sits down hard then looks from me to my treat-storing pocket and back again.

The other thing we're working on is me dropping a treat nearby and her "staying" until she makes eye contact with me and I let her know she can get it. She's very good at this one, and I have noticed a huge change in her toy release when we play and I ask her to drop it. All good things.

The other way in which she tries to rule the roost is on her leash. I've tried a prong collar which isn't very nice, but it does make her pull a bit less hard. The trainer recommended I try a Martingale collar, so I bought one last night on my way home from work.

When it comes to Harlow, she's just not going to do what you want her to do unless she feels like it. It's completely infuriating. So, last night when I took her out for a walk, I decided to crack down on it, and change direction every time she pulled. Eventually, she just accepted that this was how our walk was going to go - She pulls (because she wants to), then I aggressively turn her around, harrumphing as I do so. She walks right next to me, creating slack in the leash because she knows that's what I want. Then I turn back around and it's not long before she starts pulling again.

She knows exactly what I want her to do, she just simply refuses to do it. As a result, walks are actually very unpleasant. I get pissed by the end rather than feel good that I stretched my legs and got her out of the house too. Meanwhile, she does not care in the least that I'm annoyed.

Now, one thing I didn't do was continue to walk in the other direction until she started pulling again, so maybe that's what I'll try next time.

she's lucky she's cute. 

Drawings and Paintings

I'm taking another art class at the Cambridge Center for the Arts on Brattle Street. This class is a pen and watercolor class, so I'm learning how to draw with pen. I confess I don't like it as much as my watercolor class, and all the samples here I've been doing on my own time. I'm not sure why the class I'm currently taking doesn't have me too jazzed up, but since I do enjoy practicing at home, I guess it's all fine in the end.

It is really interesting to be doing art again. I mean, I always have in some form or another, but after years of looking at light and working with it as a photographer, it's interesting to see how it effects what I see when I'm drawing.

During the watercolor class, I was able to verbalize, "I can see what the light is doing on the object, but I can't figure out how to translate it onto the paper", and the instructor could teach me how to do that.  Ten, twenty years ago, I wouldn't be able to see what was off.

This time, when I'm at home (and one of the drawings below is a good example) I'm finding that when I go to photograph the drawing itself, that's when I notice the light (or in the case of drawing, the shading) is off. It helps me see if and I can improve it or correct it.

from a photo I took on the train to Bruges. 

Brothers on a walk with Harlow and Bootsie

Uncle Billy in the weeds

Harlow on the couch


When I first photographed this one (not this pic specifically but one prior) that's when I noticed that the shading wasn't heavy enough compared to the photo.

With this one, I was doing the face on the right such a disservice that I decided to not make faces. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017


I don't know that marches and rallies help, I don't know that making calls to representatives in other states makes a difference, I don't know if sending postcards matters, But much like my love life, I don't want to get to the end of my life and say I didn't try. So I'm doing all of those things.

In the case of this protest today, the Boston Protest Against Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders in Copley Square, I wanted to join my fellow Bostonians and add myself to the numbers of people who stand by those who are threatened by Trump's policies, including the most recent one - banning people from certain countries from entering the United States.

Since art (and baking) is stress relieving for me, I really got into my sign making, and stayed up late to design and paint mine to stand out. I laughed to myself as I thought about all the artistic things Mom taught me as a kid working on various projects; re-trace the black after you paint so it looks cleaner, use big clean penmanship, etc.

From my perch with Lauren, Owen (who's sign read "Know Justice, Know Peace!") and Elizabeth on the fountain in Copley Square I could see people stopping to photograph my sign to add to their collection (so many great signs, and people improvising - pizza boxes, a towel, even a paper napkin!). After standing with them for about 90 minutes, I left them to wander. Holding my sign up high, people stopped me to take a photo of it. One group, three women with a child in a stroller said "Oh! Can we have our picture taken with you and your sign!?" I did so gladly (I'm never the one getting in a picture!).  As we parted ways they said "Thank you for standing in solidarity with us!".  

Solidarity. That was the word. That was why I attended today. Imagine how one would feel being a refugee, or an immigrant, or a Muslim in America right now. I would think that seeing the people out in droves for me would help me feel better. If only for a little bit. I realized when she said "solidarity" that that was exactly the reason I went. 

The other thing that occurred to me is that I may have to bite the bullet and invest in a decent small camera. My iPhone isn't cutting it and I have a feeling this isn't the last of the protests I'll be attending. 

Some of my favorite signs read 
"I'm not a sign guy but GEEZ!"
"Know Justice, Know Peace"
"Bigotry is Bigly Unconstitutional"
"First they came for the Muslims...and we said 'not today Motherf*&$%&r!"

a card-making "[arty" at the home of an art classmate of mine, Jess (far left)

some of the postcards

Lauren and Owen holding my sign

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Missing Dog

Harlow went missing Friday night.

Shannon and I were relaxing on my couch for a time when she asked "Where's Harlow?"

I didn't know, but figured she was outside in the yard doing whatever it is she does when she's wandering around outside in the yard. I got up and called her. No Harlow. I walked through the whole house. She's not inside. I went back outside and looked all over the backyard. No dog.

Where is my dog?

We put on our boots and I found her most annoying toy ever  and took the the neighborhood, calling her and squeaking the toy. No luck. There was little we could do, really, because even if we spotted her, she wasn't going to come to me unless she wanted to. And generally she didn't want to.

We headed back tot he house, and I said, "well, let me open the gate so when she does come home she can come into the yard and back through the dog door."  I think we were planning on getting in the car or something. I don't remember. I just know I was thinking I was screwed because it appeared that she'd figured out how to hop the fence entirely. How would I deal with that?

But I heard scratching, and that's when, in a flash, I realized what happened. About a half hour before, I had absent-mindedly shut the basement door not realizing that Harlow was down there.

It was a relief!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Women's March on Washington

The stars aligned for Shannon and I when we got up at an unspeakably early hour Saturday morning, January 21 to get our cab to Logan. With boarding passes printed and no bags to check (we would be living out of two small purses and one small clear backpack until the next morning) we walked straight through security and to our gate, got coffee and sat down about 45 minutes before boarding. No crowd like we had expected.

As boarding time approached, more women sporting pink pussy-hats gathered, and the gate attendant at Spirit Air came over the PA "I have worked here five years and I have never seen this before; this flight is completely full and only one bag has been checked" The place erupted into cheers - it looked like every person on that plane was heading straight from the airport to the Women's March on Washington!

Our flight into Baltimore was uneventful and when we got off the plane and headed to the taxi stand we were shocked to find no one else waiting except two women who offered to ride along with us. We had the cab driver take us to Greenbelt Station, the northern-most station in DC's Metro, which was about a 45 minute drive away and still in MD. As we approached the neighborhood of Greenbelt, there were seemingly hundreds of people with signs and pink pussy hats wandering in all directions. police blockades prevented vehicles from heading down the street where the Metro stop was located. We had our driver pull over and as we paid, a woman approached our cab "How much to take us all the way in to DC?" she asked the driver. It turned out that there was a one to two hour wait just to get ON the Metro.

We all agreed to continue on to DC in the cab, telling our driver that if he could even get us three miles from the city we would walk from there. To our surprise the traffic was minimal, and as we approached a our exit a police cruiser blocked it to prevent further traffic from entering the city. We had the cab driver pull over at the space where the exit and the highway split, I paid him, we hopped out of the car and walked one block to the action (maybe that's not saying much considering how many people were there). We could not believe it!

It seemed that everyone assumed the roads would be nuts, so they didn't even try.

The longest wait Shannon and I had was our next move - Starbucks. I think we were there ninety minutes. The coffee and egg sandwich made it worth it though!

It was really something to see. So many people who just seemed to come from every direction. The creativity with the signs was unending. Everyone was jovial and courteous. I must confess feeling a bit separated from it all though. Maybe it was so huge that I just couldn't wrap my brain around it. Maybe it's my knowledge that while this was a completely historic event, it doesn't solve the problems that need to be addressed. Maybe it was because I actually had to work by finding BU people at a designated time and location (cell phones didn't work well) and photograph them for BU Today. Maybe it's years of being an observer rather than participant because of my newspaper history. I'm not quite sure, but I hope that as it settles in, I can feel good that I was a part of it.

Shannon was such a good sport considering we were basically required to connect with our BU people before anything else. We did find them and I did photograph them. They began to join a moving clog of people, but it became very clear that the march wasn't happening yet and no one was going anywhere. Just packing in tighter in the off-streets from the main collection of people on independence Way. The rally presenters, who had started at 10am were still going at 1:15PM when the march was supposed to start.

When I checked the app designed by the march's organizers, people were commenting on the forum board "Let's march! I've been starting here for hours and I can't move!"  and other expressions of frustration from those who were on Independence Way, in front of the stage and unable to move anywhere.  News spread and it turned out that there were so many people that the march route needed modifying. I'm not sure what that entailed, but I knew it meant that the spot where we were standing and the BU folks were committed to marching through was not the place to be. I photographed them for a while, but when the Dean said "Let's go!" to her travel mates, I decided to bail. I knew they were throwing themselves into a batch of people who literally couldn't move anywhere.

So, Shannon and I parted from them and headed to a nearby freeway which was clear of traffic. It was good to breathe and get out of the crowd, friendly thought they were. I suggested we walk a few long blocks away from the main crowd. Then, we hooked a left and BAM! there people were successfully marching. We joined in and it felt great to be part of it. Reading the signs and hearing the cheers and chants with the backdrop of the Washington Monument was really something!

Afterwards, we ducked into a hotel where a pair of siblings invited us to their room when we told them we were headed to find a bathroom on the second floor (the lines to the port-a-potties were blocks long and I'd hold it all night before going to one of them). She was from Utah, he was studying at Annapolis. We relaxed, just Shannon and I, in the lobby with some tea for a bit, then went shopping for a knit hat which I desperately needed since it ended up being ten degrees colder than expected.

Weeks ago, I made a 6:30 reservation for us at Founding Farmers and boy was I happy I did! Awesome way to end our brief but eventful trip - good food and good company!

Some of my favorite signs included
Resistance is fertile
Thou Shalt Let Women Choose. Falopians 20:17
This Pussy Destroys Things That Tweet (with a cartoon cat who ate a canary)
I Can't believe we still have to protest this shit
Keep the mitts off my lady bits
You can't combover misogyny
Respect Existence or Expect Resistance
You may not be racist but you elected one
Fight Like a Girl

When you can't find a clear backpack, you improvise! In this case with some ribbon and a bedding bag!

At the airport putting contact info on our arms just inn case of emergency.

Our first view of the crowd - blocks and blocks from the center of the action

Independence Way. The rally stage was about four blocks to the right. Jumbotrons and speakers were set-up, but we could never hear what was being said. 

I loved these sashes which seemed to be reminiscent of the suffragists

The women saw me photographing her, turned to me and looked at me with this expression, when gave me a slight nod and turned back after I'd clicked. She was not foolin around.

This large drumline was made up mostly of women and they used no harnesses to carry their drums!


An orange Trump balloon was knocked around for entertainment.

I found this girl and her expression captivating. Her sign read "I need feminism because we still ask what the victim was wearing"

An alternate route out of the clogged crowd

Chanting over the anti-abortionists

member of Planned Parenthood make a chain between marchers and anti-abortionists

at the Ellipse

at the Ellipse

The march continues on beyond the Ellipse

Many signs were left at key spots throughout the city

Resting marchers as the event simmers down

A photo of my by Shannon earlier in the day
 Video clip

Women's March on Washington from C.M. Scott on Vimeo.

I came home to find this plant bloomed while I was in DC. My first thought was "Yay! I didn't kill it!", then I thought about how timely it's opening was.