FIRST

Boy's Snail

Everything has a First.  The significance and the beauty of that quotidian word struck me as I was looking through the mess that is my “box” of photographs.  In this quirky machine box, that is.  My photographs are as organized as my life.  Finding First took awhile.  I still don’t know where I put some of him.

I have a guru.  A real one.  He tells me what to do, how to do it, and fixes the stuff I break and finds the stuff I lose.  He’s done it for twenty-five years at least.  If I find First, it’s because he kept up with him.  Thank you, Ray.

My guru is a lifetime lover of cameras and photography.  He knows everything about them.  He understands how they work and what the indecipherable jargon means.  He sets my camera back on “auto” when I hit the wrong button.  He allows me one adjustment:  ISO.  I only know that I can adjust it, if I remember, so that I can actually see the image in the blackness that would have been my photograph.  And that is enough.

He made me buy my first camera.  I think it was a Fujifilm.  I don’t remember the model.  I do remember the excitement.  The thrill of seeing an image I had actually captured myself…all by myself.   I am no better photographer today.  I may be worse and not because the old stalker, Familial Tremor, is catching up to me.  First happened before I became self-conscious.  Before I became self-critical.  Before I knew what depth-of-field meant.  Before I became conscious of “composition”.   First allowed me the freedom to be free.  First allowed me the  joy of discovery unfettered by Information.

Those were the days and nights of adventure.  Of Firsts.  Lord, how I marveled at the pictures.  Here are some of them only slightly lightened when they were too dark to post or, when I couldn’t resist, a little saturation added.

 

Rosary

Rosary

This old pewter rosary still hangs from the lampshade on my desk in the “new” house too.  I found it in a junk store in a box of  junk.   That was years before the camera and the First happened.  I used to sit at my desk and photograph everything in sight.  I kept  the lamp who is a camel with metal palm leaves shading him. And I kept the rosary.

 

Ladybug

Ladybug

The-Boy-Who-Grew-Too-Tall had a fascination with insects and snails when he was a baby child.  Here he found a ladybug on the driveway.  I loved taking pictures of his little plump, dimpled hands.  I must have just found out how to change color to black and white.  I hope I still have the color image somewhere.

 

Fence

Fence

This is before we installed a wrought iron gate at the entrance to the back of our old house.  The gate was cedar like the fence, but we had to get out of our cars to open and shut it.  My husband finally tired of that and installed an electronic gate.  The new gate often refused to open all the way.  It ripped off two very expensive outside mirrors from my car too.  The meter reader either left it open or couldn’t see the lockbox mounted on a post right in front of him.  The box held the key.  We got billed $60 every time that happened.   I think some electronic stuff is more trouble than it’s worth.

 

Spent Bloom

Spent Bloom

This spent blossom on a Lily of the Nile surprised and delighted me.  It was a true First.  I had been wandering around the yard one night in the moonlight snapping things that I liked.  I found this on my camera card when I went back inside.  I have no idea what I did to it.  I know the fence must have been bluish in the moonlight anyway since I had little ability to post-process anything and no notion of the existence of that word.  I still like it…even if it sits right smack in the middle of the photograph.  That makes me smile too.

 

Potted Lemon Tree

Potted Lemon Tree

FIRST.  This was a real first for me.  I was so thrilled by this photograph that I emailed it to Guru.  He put a frame on it and emailed it back.  His way of complimenting me, I suppose.  I know he laughed at my foolish pride, but he never said so.  The lemon tree is long gone, but I’m still proud of my lemons!

 

Old Friend

Old Friend

This is my old garden friend, Rabbit.  He moved to the new house with me.  I have lots of photographs of him.  The thing that amuses me about this First is that I discovered some fad feature of whatever simple graphics program I had at the time.  I was fascinated by it.  I changed all kinds of photographs into unrecognizable contortions of themselves.  And I loved it.  I still like the full-resolution of Rabbit here.  Lordy, how cool I thought I was!

 

Potpourri

Potpourri

Okay, for fun, I have to show you one more.  If I recall correctly, this is a photograph that I shot looking down into a bowl of potpourri.  That’s what I meant by “distortion”.   Even I began to see these contortions as absurd and tired of them pretty soon.  Ah, but they were a First.  And First is always sweet.

 

Old Bird Feeder

Old Bird Feeder

The only photograph I still have of the bird feeder at the old house is this low-resolution one.  It was very dark so I worked on it a bit here.  I loved that photograph.  I remember that it had just stopped raining that late evening.  Everything was fresh and wet and took on a different feel because of the rain.   I remember clearly the delight I felt looking at this one.  I will never forget that bird feeder and the joy it gave me because it was the First.

 

Potted Tree Gardenia

Potted Tree Gardenia

This gardenia bloom was on a tree in a pot on my mother’s porch at the old house.  She lived in a house we built across the patio for her.  It looked as if it were part of our house, but it was a separate house.  She lived there for twenty years before she died.  She had been a gardener her whole life and loved flowers so I kept flowering shrubs and even this tree in pots on her porch.  She used to inch along in her wheelchair beside me when I planted her old favorite annual flowers each spring.  She could no longer stand or bend to plant them herself, but she directed me every step of the way.  I think it was almost the same for her.  After the plants bloomed, she spent a good deal of her time rolling along in her chair pinching off dead blooms and pinching back the plants so they would bunch out and not grow tall and scraggly.  She knew what she was doing.  I don’t garden at the new house.  It just doesn’t feel the same.

 

Boy's Snail

Boy's Snail

I don’t think this one requires an explanation.  Little boys and snails and puppy dog tails.  I was excited to catch him just as he plucked the snail off the wall.   A First “action” shot for me.

 

I don’t recall the first photograph I took with First camera.  They were all First.   I recall, as if it were yesterday, the last one before her sensor bit the dust.  

Assisted Flight Air-O-Bics

Assisted Flight Air-O-Bics

I had carefully taught Rita how to perform her Assisted Flight Air-O-Bics designed to insure that she got enough exercise.  I taught her exactly as my parrot consultant had instructed.  Rita loved it and so did I.  She would lie in my hand and  “fly” around the yard with me following her lead.  Wherever she turned her head, that’s the way we went.  The Flight Air-O-Bics was designed by my bossy consultant and President of The Amazona Society of the United States, Shari Boudoin.  Nothing but the best for Rita Girl, you understand.

On this day, I handed my First to my husband to snap a photo to send to Shari.  He’d never touched it.  He was an old 35mm Minolta guy who had given up photography by then anyway.   As Rita tried to head out, he snapped the last shot Fujifilm Girl ever breathed.   Later, I thought it a little ironic that he took the last shot.  Maybe it was a First for him.

34 Comments on “FIRST

  1. George you have a wonderful of tugging at heart strings (darn it!). You make me smile with a lump in my throat. Beautiful shots and a lovely post. 🙂

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  2. George, I’m late! I’m three posts behind now, but I will take my time to savor your words and your photographs. What an absolute treasure this post is. I’m left now with that wonderful smile in your eyes in the last photograph, as Rita’s whole self is smiling beak to tail before take-off. From the ladybug to the lemon tree to the snail and the magnolia, ALL of these images capture something special about you and the delight you have taken and the beauty you have observed in precious moments. I feel so privileged to have a glimpse into these memories. Your way of telling about them is so vivid, I feel as if I can hear your actual voice, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for that.

    You write about courage above in your exchange with Cara, and I’m reminded of Aristotle who ranked courage as “the FIRST of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees the others,” words that are fitting in light of your title, and I think particularly appropriate in light of what I am discovering about your person. It takes tremendous courage to be so genuine and tender-hearted.

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    • Thanks, Lemony. I was just telling my sister in Ft. Worth about you and saying that I had not visited in awhile. I’ll be right over! I’m way behind on my visiting and I’m worried about it. I wondered if you had THE POST up yet! 😉

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      • Thank you so much for your long visit today and your comments on and questions about some of my photographs. Somehow you make the blogosphere feel so real. Even though we might not actually be in when we stop by, we can sit and rock a while on each other’s front porches. Fortunately for me, when I visit your porch, I have the chance and great pleasure to meet some other very interesting visitors. I have, more than once, imagined us all around a very large dining room table. You have attracted an incredibly diverse group of people here.

        We both took away something different from our conversation the other day (or week… I’ve completely lost track of time–it’s been a long few days). I ended my comment on your post saying that you had given me the title for my post the next day. I had asked about whether it had been difficult being different, and you mentioned that you don’t revisit the past, and that we’re all fractured and that (if I’m remembering what you said correctly) we all reveal ourselves, it just depends on whether people are aware enough to see through the cracks. I loved those words; they were perfect for the photograph I had taken (which captured, for me, exactly that idea). So, my title the next was “Through the cracks.” The image is of a very fragile, decaying leaf (you asked what it was, and I would love to send you the original image, but will email it). For me, the leaf is my effort to look back (something that I, too, very rarely and reluctantly do). You can see a little bit through the “cracks” in that image, but I intentionally left background mostly dark (because, well, … that’s how, at this point in time, I’m able to represent what “being different” felt like for so many years. Today, I feel deeply grateful for my difference (and all that the word encompasses). Someday, maybe I’ll be ready to look back on what it meant in my earlier years, or maybe not–maybe looking back will never be important; I don’t know.

        Anyway, while I took the question about the difficulty of being different and “through the cracks” from our conversation, you pursued a different and really beautiful path of “firsts,” which I enjoyed immensely. We may have misunderstood each other, but I love how it all turned out!

        I still have more visiting to do on your porch; I never seem to be able to stay long enough. It always feels so peaceful here. Thank you.

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        • I should have known. Sometimes, I don’t see. Now, I understand. You handled that one beautifully. I’m sitting here smiling at your cleverness. I agree. I don’t think about the past. My sister is always correcting my recollections of it. It’s actually been difficult for me to recall events and places and objects from my past since I came to this blog. My mother could remember the price of every item in the grocery store and compare the prices from year to year. But, she did not recall how her mother made “stickies” or much else about her childhood or my own. We cannot apply selective memory, I think. And I don’t have much interest in it. We don’t live there anymore.

          Thank you for teasing me with the little glimpse between the cracks. I didn’t see a damn thing! 🙂

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  3. I believe what you did was make me think . . . This, to me, is a sign of a great piece of writing. As I listened to you speak about First, I began to think of my own First — all of them, in their varying sizes, latitudes, and impacts. The first time I cried while reading a book. The first time someone told me I was ugly. The first ending of a life and the reemergence into another. As I considered all of this, I thought the word “first” might do well as a synonym for “new.” But the more I got to thinking about it, it didn’t feel all that right. Instead, I’ve selected possibility and grow. Possibility, because not all firsts are seen to fruition, nor should they be, I reckon. And grow because some of them are, and we are forever changed by those experiences.

    I loved seeing these moments captured through your eye, George. The pictures reflect not only where you find beauty and discovery, but tell a bit about your story, too. I’m glad you’ve begun to post again. While I would suspect each of us enjoys hearing how we might have touched you with our own writings, you, George, have much to offer in the way of sharing your heart with the assistance of a photo. I’ve begun to think of these photos of yours as doorways; something that prompts you through toward something you might not otherwise have ventured to speak about. And it is there we grow.

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    • Mollusk Girl. You know me, don’t you? I should have known you would. You are too perceptive for me. When I think about my first post here, I laugh. I didn’t post a photo of my own even. I said virtually nothing. I didn’t know what I was doing. WordPress was a total mystery to me. I still can’t find the new feature that lists all of the blogs I follow. I do not talk about myself. I never did. There are two kind of people. There are the ones who stick a toe in the water first. There are those who jump right in headfirst. I am normally a jumper. Not here. Once I got through that First Door, I began to feel at home. Now, I have become totally shameless. I write what I once would have considered sentimental drivel. You were one of the first to give me courage. I thought, If that young woman, with skin like a mollusk, has the courage to write, so do I! I enjoy talking here. And, you are precisely correct. This has been a First adventure for me. Thank you, Mollusk Girl.

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        • Cara said it better than I ever could. First is not necessarily new…it IS about possibility and growth. I’m not sure I would have made that realization had she not pointed it out. First also requires courage and this is what’s so striking about your work and about you….courage. The courage to photograph a spent bloom. I don’t have that courage, not that courage. Maybe I have some other, I don’t know.

          My in-box is probably like yours….over 200 emails waiting. But when I see one of yours, I put it aside, I want the time to hang out here a while. This one was no exception. I loved this series….and I loved stopping my morning to slowly scroll down the page enjoying the photographs…and the writing, oh the writing! Every word reminds me of someone I know or use to know, some place I’ve been or dreamed I’d been, something I’ve done or want to do. Thank Lady G! : )

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    • Yes, Shimon. I feel precisely as you do about birds that cannot fly. Rita was never allowed to fledge and could not fly when I bought her at a feed store. She could only fly about twenty feet from her high perch to the floor and crash into something at the end of her flight. She never learned to land properly. Her wings haven’t been clipped for years now. She is never caged. She goes into her cage only to sleep or to eat. Just this year, she learned to fly from her cage across the house to her play stand beside my desk. She can land without crashing now. She is about ten years old. She is often on her Java tree on the porch, but she does not fly away. She could not survive in the wild now. There are hawks around where we live now so I have to be careful about allowing her to be outside. It’s sad to us, but Rita knows no other way. Captive parrots bond with their owners and live for 30-50 years in species like hers. I felt as if I rescued her from a worse fate when I took her from the feed store. I expect she’s a happy enough girl.

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  4. This is a visual buffet–and a smorgasbord of Firsts! How to choose from this memorable box of truffles? It has to be the Gardenia and your dear mother. They are considered (in the North at least) the most challenging potted plant to get to bloom, but once they do?–they provide endless snowy, scented delights from the waxiest, greenest leaves, making their tenderers feel like demi-gods for seeing them into blossom. I can just visualize you and her side-by-side, conferring and administering, cherishing the time together.

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    • There you have it, Lance. Our life together was as you visualize it. Mother was an intelligent, interesting woman. We had a good time, as they say. She could make any plant thrive. That magnolia bloomed every year from the start. Growing plants was the least of the things I learned from her, but it was one of the best too. She lived to be almost ninety-six. I miss her. I will have to tell our story sometime.

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  5. This is true, I can read you forever, what a beautiful writing, dear George. FIRST things are always being so exciting to remember… You made me to think my firsts too, now. These photographs are so beautiful… how nice to see the world from your eyes… Colours, compositions… But do you know what impressed me so much, Boy’s Snail… This is so beautiful. Thank you beautiful lady, angels, muses and the sun be with you always. With my love, nia

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    • Ah, my nia! You would like the snail. So do I. There is a photograph somewhere of a snail without its shell. Boy either broke the shell or found it broken and removed the pieces. I don’t recall how it happened. He came into the house to get me to see it. He was fascinated by the way it looked without its “house”. Snails are the bane of all gardeners. I tried to kill with poisons and even by setting out little containers of beer to lure them in to drown. Nothing worked very well. Snails are prolific reproducers! I love to watch them even if they do eat up my plants. Now I have only plants they don’t like! 😉

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  6. I can read a whole book of your stories without getting tired! Thank you for sharing!

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    • Ana, I know my stories are sentimental and sappy and often sophomoric, but I figure I’m allowed that little lapse at my age. It makes me happy that you like them. I just write down what I am thinking. When I find myself saying “write down”, I laugh. When Boy was so small he had to sit on my lap to use the computer, he would say, “Type down this, Granny.” I don’t know how long it took me to convince him that one did not type “down” words. Ha Ha.

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  7. taking a moment to revisit where we started – photography or music or motorcycle riding or…. a grand exercise in reflection! i happen to think these photographs are pretty spectacular!

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    • Thanks, Daisy. I liked them then and I like them now. I am not too discerning about quality since I am not a photographer. I just like snapping away sometimes. I really loved it then. What fun I had! I am shameless, you know. But, you’d understand that! 😉

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    • Thank you, Victor. I will investigate how to set the shutter speed. I was working with ISO only because that is easy and something I understand. Sometimes, too high produces grainy effects though. Thank goodness Nikon makes VR lenses! 😉

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  8. Very nice George – Fantastic photographs for most any camera, but the story says so much. The first ______ always seems to hold a special place in our heart. The novelty of the feeling makes it special and unforgettable.

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    • I know. No matter how fumbling and awkward our first efforts always are, they remain the sweetest, don’t they. Thank goodness the world holds endless Firsts for us if we look. Thanks, Cowboy.

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  9. Your tender heart is showing again/still, George…beautiful memories captured, and now for all of us. I love the fence and shadows…reminds me of a piano keyboard…somehow all that rough wood and some metal thrown into the mix will bring out beautiful sounds, the soul-stirring kind that just won’t leave us alone once it gets there. And the old bird feeder? The wood looks like an old wagon wheel we found in a beautiful aquamarine-colored stream in southern Germany back when my wife and I were kid parents…it’s worn and weathered and has been around, touched by storms and gentle hands….

    Anyway…thank you. 🙂

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    • I heard your voice. And what a voice it is! I knew it all along. I like your analogy of the piano keys. I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you for understanding what I was saying here. Who but an old soul would keep an old wagon wheel for so long? You are a sweet and gentle man.

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