BY THE RIVER

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On the last day of July, the heat finally broke. The humidity, too. A few months ago, I got a Panasonic Lumix f4, 40 to 150mm telephoto for my Olympus cameras … and then, the Olympus f1.8 25 mm went on sale.

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I bought it, thus completing my lens collection for the Olympus cameras. There are others I wish I had, but they are all out of my price range — or they duplicate (or overlap) lenses I already own.

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It was a very bright day. The big problem on very bright days is always exposure. The contrast is so sharp, it is hard to find an exposure where you can see the highlight and not lose the detail in the shadow.

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I learned a lot about my two lenses. That the Lumix telephoto is not as good as I might wish, but it’s okay. It gets me closer than I thought it would with acceptable quality. The exceptional lens in that range is out of my price range. I can work with this.

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The Olympus f1.8 25 mm is a terrific piece of glass. Sharp from edge to edge with lovely bokeh.

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My collection is complete. I know I’ll want something else. That someone will make a camera I lust for because a passion for camera gear never really ends. But for the foreseeable future, I’ve got what I need, more than I ever expected.

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SHARING MY WORD – WEEK 31 ALREADY!

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #31

Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?

I bet you can guess the answer to that.

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Where do you like to vacation?

If only someone would invent the transporter. Because I would love to be in Paris.

I love being places, but I hate having to drive there or worse, fly. There’s hardly any place I would not want to vacation … well okay, probably not the Bronx or downtown Detroit, but most places have something worth seeing.

Trail by the cabin on a misty morning

Really, we stay close to home (mostly) because airplanes are no fun and long drives are exhausting.

If I could get there without stress, I’d be in Paris, India, San Francisco, Arizona, any one of many national parks. New Orleans. New York. London.

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The Himalayas. Rocky Mountains, Great Smoky or Appalachia. Nashville. Vermont. Maine. Cape Cod. Coney Island or anywhere there’s a great roller coaster.

Or at home, on our love seat, with each other and the dogs.

If you had to describe your day as a traffic sign, what would it be?

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List at least five favorite first names.

“I’m sorry, have we met before?”

“And you are …?”

“Come again?”

“Do I know you?”

“Um, could you spell that? Oh. S-U-S-A-N.”

ALL AROUND RED

MY FACE ISN’T RED … BUT OTHER STUFF IS!

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So you want red?

The last time my face was really red, I had a terrible sunburn. I’m not much of a blusher. Lacking a hugely embarrassing story to brighten your day, here is red of the world.

In flower, cars, trucks and the leaves of autumn. Barns and carousels, bricks, cranberries, and peppers. Red, redder, scarlet. Bricks and bright fabric. Red, my favorite color that isn’t black. Back “in the day” (whatever that means), my favorite “semi-dressup” was a black outfit with a red blazer.

I haven’t worn a blazer in years, but I think I still have a dozen of them in my closet. No wonder I can’t find my tee shirts!

A WAR AGAINST WOMEN

A good friend in Texas who used to live here in New England is fighting a lonely battle in her town for the right of women to retain control over their bodies. Texas is the front line of the war against women, a war I thought we’d won years ago with Roe V. Wade and the end of (formal, official) discrimination against women in the workplace.

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She and I remember the bad old days. We were there together. The days of backroom abortions performed with chlorine bleach, coat hangers and turkey basters. When sepsis or perforation of your uterus was not an unusual price to pay to end a pregnancy. Where young women, unable to obtain an abortion, threw themselves off bridges rather than bear an unwanted child. Or tried to abort themselves, with lethal results.

Despite self-righteous conservative braying, backlash and brainwashing, having an abortion was not and is not a sign one is irresponsible or anti-life.

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Women have (and always have had) abortions for all kinds of reasons including fear for their health, welfare of existing children, and of course, economics, AKA survival.

While birth control isn’t 100% reliable, the men trying to stop women’s access to abortion are also determined to prevent us from getting effective birth control. If there is any logic to this, I fail to see it.

What’s the real point?

It has nothing to do with life or the right to be born. It’s about power. About putting women in their place so men can regain the control they have lost. Back to the kitchen for us, barefoot and pregnant. If men had babies, you can be sure this would not be happening.

I had an abortion that wasn’t an abortion, thus retaining plausible deniability.

My husband was in the hospital. He had cancer. It was so early in the pregnancy — less than 4 weeks — tests were negative, so technically, I couldn’t have an abortion. But I knew.

It was the worst time to discover myself pregnant. I didn’t know if my husband would live. (He didn’t live long.) We were financially maxed out. I had gotten into a highly competitive master’s program — more than 2000 applications for a couple of dozen spots — and I would not be able to accept. I looked at my life and thought: “I don’t need more education. I need a job.” No matter how I tried to fit the pieces together, a baby was not in the picture.

I had a “menstrual extraction” which was what you got when the test read negative but you knew otherwise. It was done in a doctor’s office. Without anesthesia. That’s a lot of pain, during which you dare not move lest a blade slip and do some serious, permanent damage.

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So many women my age went through similar or worse experiences. Were we happy about it? No, but we did what we felt was best, not just for us but for everyone affected.

Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What happens to one woman happens to her entire circle — family and friends. We were adult women. We had the right and the obligation to decide what happens to our bodies and our lives.

I maintain my long-standing position on this matter. Unless you are a woman, your opinion is worthless. I do not care what they preach in your church. Until you walk in my shoes, live in my body, you know nothing.

Why am I weighing in on this? The it-wasn’t-really-an-abortion was more 40 years ago. No one knew it happened until now. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m sorry it happened, but I believed I was doing the right thing. I still believe it.

How ironic that women are again facing the specter of those terrifying, desperate days. The nightmare of the back room and the coat hanger is looming. The gains in personal freedom women won are at risk. If we don’t speak out and stand together, we will lose it. Maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. The opposition is relentless.

I am past child-bearing age. It’s about all women. Whether or not we have the right to decide for ourselves what is done to us. If ever there was a right to life involved, how about our right to have a decent life, to bear the number of children they want and not be managed by men whose stake in the issue is tangential? How about that?

No one wants an abortion. But sometimes, you need one.

ODDBALL PHOTOS, 2015 WEEK 31

CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE: 2015 WEEK 31

This first picture is odd in the sense of funny. Intentionally. It comes with a back story. Garry and I were at a tribute for a long-term colleague of Garry’s who passed away some months back.

It was not only a tribute to a Joe Day, a fine human being and a great reporter, but a reunion of many people with whom Garry had worked over the past four decades.

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This picture includes Garry Armstrong, legendary news guy, and Jorge Quiroga, another legendary news guy who is still working. When both of them were working, they were constantly mistaken for one another. I can see a resemblance, but they really aren’t “separated at birth” twins. Or am I missing something?

Windows at Joes American Bar & Grill

Windows at Joes American Bar & Grill

IF WISHES WERE HORSES

“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride … ” – Old Proverb

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I do not know what a wish looks like, though I think it might look like a rising sun over a glassy harbor. Beggar that I am, I wish for a horse to ride and one more.

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Gentle, well-school mounts so Garry and I can ride together again. And, I wish all of us the best life can give us — many sunrises on the shores of bright summer days.

BUT, SOFT! WHAT LIGHT FROM YONDER WINDOW BREAKS?

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Romeo and Juliet: Balcony Scene

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off. (2.2.3-10)

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Both windows face east, and the light is that of the rising sun.

For Paula’s Black and White Sunday: Windows