A Photo a Week Challenge: Crowd Control

An ordinary day in a small town. An ordinary day … about to become … different. Exciting. Memorable. Because on this day, the power went out in Hannaford. It was only dark for a few seconds, after which the emergency generators kicked in. It could have been worse.

It was dark throughout the plaza. We will never know why. The wailing siren of a passing police cruiser and the ambulance that followed it might be a hint.


Despite all the computers being down, the lights dim while running on generators, no panic ensued. We waited, patiently, at the pharmacy. We had been waiting to get our flu shots. Although you can give a vaccination without a computer, record-keeping is computer-based.

No computers? No medication. No vaccines. No nothing until the power is back and the computers reboot. You can buy groceries in the dark if you have cash or a paper check, but everything medical is regulated. Sorry, no sale.

Garry took it personally. Another version of slow drivers.

Just as we were about to give up and go home … the lights came back. And all was well. Life was good again.


As I sat in the living room, baseball playoffs on the screen, I looked outside. Today is the fifth anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy. Which means five years officially cancer free.

Do I know for sure I’m cancer free? Of course not. No one knows that, not really. It does mean that I have had no symptoms, no signs. Nothing that makes that red light start flashing.


As part of this unofficial celebration, my granddaughter gave me a hair cut. Actually, I got several hairs cut. My hair has been falling out by the handful, probably the anemia and vitamin deficiencies catching up with me.


Having mid-back long hair wasn’t helping. While I try to get my levels back, it turns out the hair looks pretty good.


I am alive and with just a little bit of luck, I will stay that way for a good many years to come.

Meanwhile, the leaves are finally changing. For real.

The sun was low in the sky, just before sunset. It’s a particularly beautiful time of the day and especially beautiful this time of year. The sun is more golden in October … and today, the leaves got serious about autumn. It was only after the rain — last week — that color began to show in our trees.

It isn’t our best year, but it’s improving. I think it’ll be good, if not great. This is what you see from out my front door.


An entirely uninteresting new story? Right now, that pretty much sums up the news, not counting the stories that are merely depressing, aggravating, demoralizing, and/or infuriating.

The "Dodge City Peace Commission", June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.

The “Dodge City Peace Commission”, June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.

We don’t have a newspaper delivered. Garry usually goes out to buy one. Sometimes he misses a day and makes do with the Internet, but he likes having a paper to hold and peruse.

As a former TV news reporter for a network affiliate in Boston, he used to read three newspapers every morning, looking for items that might make a good story for him. Now, he studiously avoids the daily reports of violence and human misery … and politics … and goes directly to sports. It’s baseball’s playoff season and the Cubs are in it for the first time in many long decades. That’s about as good as the news gets these days.

Doesn't this seem strangely familiar?

Doesn’t this seem strangely familiar?

We watch The Daily Show in the evening. Though technically it’s comedy, there’s more real news on it than we find on the so-called “Real News.” Mostly it is all politics. Republican politics, since it is they who are hosting the circus. I suppose we can look forward to the second act when the Democrats get into stride. How depressing.


I’m not a Republican and I would probably vote Democratic anyway …. but I’d like to have a meaningful choice. We are supposed to have two parties. I do not have to agree with a party in order to respect its representatives. The bunch of clowns and opportunists supposedly in the running for the GOP nomination are an embarrassment. To me, to the nation, to the world.

Gee. It looks like nothing much has changed, eh?

Gee. It looks like nothing much has changed, eh?

The party of Lincoln has turned into a joke and it makes me sad. Are these men and women truly the best and brightest the Grand Old Party has to offer? Of course, we aren’t the only country where this has or is occurring, but it’s here that it really hits me where it hurts.

Uncle sam political cartoon 1899

I had thought things couldn’t get any worse, politically speaking … but I was wrong. Garry says it’s my fault for thinking things couldn’t get worse, for allowing that random thought to pass through my brain. I apologize. I never thought it could get this bad and although I would like to believe that party politics has bottomed out, I fear that there may be even worse to come.

We fought. We died. Please get out there and vote!

We fought. We died for the right to vote. Please vote!

How does that effect me? How could it not affect me? And you and you and you and you and you and you …



Most of the world seems man-made these days, though sometimes the materials used are natural. Thing made by man of wood, or stone, for example are man-made, but the building materials aren’t. Today is going to be things built by man, but from naturally occurring “stuff.”

Red barn made of wood. Built by man, but from trees ... and I'll bet local trees.

Red barn made of wood. Built by man from trees … and I’ll bet local trees.

Built by man -- and woman -- but the cotton grows in fields and the poles were originally saplings growing in our woods.

Built by man — and woman — but the cotton for the natural canvas once grew in fields. The poles were fashioned from saplings that grew in our woods.


Old barn, built of wood harvested locally nearly 300 years ago (ca 1720).

A stone bridge over the Blackstone River and Canal

A stone bridge over the Blackstone River and Canal.

All products of man, with a little help from forests and fields.



I suppose it ought to be instinctive that a picture should have a subject, just as a book or a movie should have a plot.


Those of who read a lot, watch movies or TV, and/or write, know it isn’t necessarily as simple as it seems. It is surprisingly easy for a subject to get lost between clauses … or the movie’s theme to get buried under special effects. Or the beautiful rose to be lost amidst a sea of other flowers.


A photo needs a subject and the photographer needs to know what he or she is trying to say. If you don’t know what your subject is, you can be pretty sure no one else will know either.


My answer, over the years, is to move in close. To have a subject stand out, I try to make it easy for anyone to know what I’m trying to say. If you are shooting a single subject, just shoot tight and stay focused.


We need to celebrate Fall of Sauron day. The triumph of good over evil. The dropping of the One Ring into the cracks of doom. The journey of a couple of fragile Hobbits — successful beyond all logic and reason — to conquer the dark doom of Mordor.

The message came by email out of my past. Blowing away at least thirty years of haze and fog …

… I still have your letter of congratulations on my first marriage … written in Elvish.


I remember learning Elvish. J.R.R. Tolkien had amazing appendices, from which you could learn Elvish. Well enough to write a little and read even more. I could have studied other Middle Earth languages too, but quit after Elvish because I had, you know, to work.

I admit I don’t remember writing that note. I remember writing the “Fall of Sauron Day” (in English) service. The first version plus 5 or 6 later revisions.

macro fuchsia

We held the annual celebration as near as scheduling allowed to the Vernal Equinox — March 21st or thereabouts. It was like a miniature Seder, but with more wine drunk a lot faster. Drunk being the operative word.

all that is gold

The entire service lasted just short of an hour. Including about six glasses of wine. I’m sure I have a copy of the service in a huge box of writing in the back of the basement, near the oil tank. If it hasn’t rotted or turned to dust by now.

On a year when “the boys” (our lively groups of crazed engineers) had available time, we had visual and sound effects. We came in costume, or some semblance thereof. When life was too busy to make costumes, we did the best we could with whatever came to hand, dressing in some version of Middle Earth-wear.

Then we celebrated. Drank to excess. Which wasn’t hard since I basically didn’t drink. We laughed, ate mushrooms (the favorite food of Hobbits). Some of us me passed out and/or got sick me again.

Those were crazy busy years. Babies. Work.  Establishing a profession. Partying hearty almost every night, then getting up and doing it again.

All of this took place in my twenties. As I rounded the corner to 30, I wanted out. There is such thing as too much fun.

I lived nine years in Israel, but never properly learned Hebrew. Maybe if I had studied Hebrew with the same determination I’d put into Elvish, it would have turned out differently.

So, for now, if anyone would like to join me in a revived celebration of the destruction of Sauron, I have the service somewhere. We’d have to cut down on the booze since we don’t drink anymore, but I’m pretty sure we could make the rest of it work for us. Because celebrating good over evil is bound to be a rewarding holiday.