Yesterday was cold and windy and threatened rain. We were planning on taking photos on the lawn at the edge of the housing development, but the grass was covered in goose shit. Instead we occupied the strange, little tennis court and let the girls run (and crawl) wild.
Some cute new clothes and the first day of 2022 with weather nice enough to sit outside were perfectly good reasons for a fresh set of photos.
Penny had a great time putting all sorts of stuff into her mouth that she shouldn’t have. Unfortunately for Beanut, she got some sunblock in her eye and was pretty unhappy. Worry not. As soon as the irritation wore off, Beatrice was just fine.
Enjoy the photos of one happy, leaf-eating child and one grumpy, eye-irritated child.
And because why not, here’s two minutes from the day before of the girls enjoy the grass and wind.
Today is the first birthday of my wonderful, screaming monsters. Sarah made them a confetti cake and they got a visit from Grandma Bev and Grandpa Redge. Snow fell. Diapers were changed. They made a huge mess. Photos were taken. Bath time was torture. Getting dressed and having their hair brushed was an unbearable misery. Overall, a perfect first birthday.
Today is also a day tinged with sadness as we remember our lost Olive. Milestones come fast during a child’s first few years. First teeth. First steps. First words. First Christmas. First lawsuit. You get the idea. And, as we see Penny and Beanut make all these steps growing up, we can’t help but be reminded that Livvy didn’t get a chance for any of them. I miss that little baby and I miss the person she could have been.
When the sadness of the situation is overwhelming, I feel comforted in the two girls we do get to see grow, learn about the world, and chase the ever-patient Noodle, and knowing that Livvy’s essence has gone back to the universe that made her. In the end, we are all just stardust and she has gone back to the stars earlier than we would have liked.
Happy birthday, girls. I love you all very much.
Enjoy some photos of babies with a bunch of cake on their sweet, little faces.
These aren’t just personal or professional goals, but a mix of the two. In this era of working from home in the midst of being a stay-at-home parent, the lines between the two types of goals are often hazy, so why not mix them together in this list and let it fly? They’re already mixed together in my head. Besides, work is essentially personal since, for me at least, I work to support my life rather than live to work.
I share these with you as a commitment device. If you, faceless reader, know that I am striving to accomplish these things, then I will more easily be able to pressure myself out of slacking.
In no particular order, here we go.
Record some TBLR episodes: I dabbled with The Black Laser Reads many years ago and then sort of let it drop. However, I’ve been thinking about The Black Laser Reads non-stop since then. A dig through the post archive reveals that only two episodes were released, both in the in summer of 2011. That means it’s been bouncing around in my head for ten and a half years with little public action. I’ve finally got an acceptably imperfect VO booth set up here in my office and an ever-deepening list of public domain works that I am interested in. It’s just a matter now of doing the recording.
Make more photos: Sarah and I have this crazy idea of owning a photo studio one day, but, as a photographer, I feel like I still need lots of practice. I’m getting the dust out and I shoot and process very deliberately, but there are so many aspects I need to improve on before I’d be comfortable charging for the work. Practice practice!
Improve my photo compositing skills: I am like a B-minus level photo compositor. The problem is that I don’t really know what I need to do to improve. I enjoy the work, definitely, but I am at a bit of an impasse where I need some structured education in the matter. I really just want our holiday cards to be better than everyone else’s. Simple.
Write more on The Black Laser: I’ve already started doing this. I’d like to keep it up. At the beginning, I wrote here all the time about anything that interested me. A lot of it is very bad, but that is the price we pay to get better at a skill. Then, for many years—let’s call them “The Quiet Years”—I worried that no one cared at all about what I wrote here. That is the result of my skill and taste levels increasing at different rates. Significantly better taste with moderately better skill. Many ideas were hatched and all were killed by the “Why bother?”s. Much silence ensued. Now, while I am still unconvinced that people are too interested in what I have to write, the whole purpose is the bother. That is, the work is the reason to do the work. And I’m enjoying it again!
Write some more stories: During the class at Cabrillo I was on a streak. Sure, it was for the class, but I was in the mindset and the barrier to the work was low. Then we had COVID hit the world, the cross-country move, the triplets pregnancy, the temporary move to Maryland, the birth of the girls, the unending hospital misery, the loss of Olive, the move back to Delaware, and the struggle to figure out how to be parents who work. Somewhere along the way, the needle just sort of popped out of the groove. I’d like to flip it over and start the B side.
Make a local friend: It’s crazy what social distancing and two little girls who can’t walk yet will do to prevent you from making friends. No one’s fault, of course. As much of an introvert as I am, having a friend within driving distance would probably not be such a bad idea. How to make that friend is a totally different proposition.
Continue to practice my penmanship: My handwriting is not bad, by any means, but it is a funny mix of half-remembered cursive and printing. You will often see both a cursive S and a printing S in the same word. I purchased the Spencerian Penmanship book set a few months ago and was steadily practicing while doing overnights just after we brought Penelope and Beatrice home. After the move back to Delaware, I have not been keeping up with it so well. There’s something about not having 8 hours of forced quiet time every single night to make you lose sight of the learning you were doing. Of course, my penmanship doesn’t matter at all, but it’s something I’d like to improve so I am going to.
That’s kind of a lot of stuff, I guess. But there is kind of a lot of time in a year and it is important to have goals. Keep up with me and see how far I get! Commitment devices!
Also, you might have noticed an audio file embedded in the top of this post. Click it! That’s me reading to you on my website for your enjoyment. I thought that adding audio versions of these posts would be a fun way to add a little value to the site and give me a chance to hone my monologue editing skills. You get all the benefit; I do all the work. Win-win.
It’s Thanksgiving. The 23-pound turkey is in the oven and cooking nicely. Stuffing is warming in the slow cooker. The first bottle of wine is open and halfway to the bank. Your kids are dressed like little turkeys in outfits gifted by the babysitter. You find yourself with a brief moment before the sun dips behind the horizon.
What do you do?
If you’re me, you throw the kids on the lawn and take some dang photos. And, with the help of our friendly neighbor Doug, you get a couple almost-good family portraits. To be fair to Doug, he had the barrel of the lens pointed directly into the setting sun. A valiant effort, but we’ll have to try again.
Sarah purchased these outfits for the girls a while and ago and we’d been looking for a good time to use them. She worried that we were too far into autumn for another outdoor shoot, but the climate change gods came through for us, delivering a warm, lovely November afternoon. We were also fortunate enough to have the sunset shining directly between the houses with which we share a weird, communal back yard.
All in all, we had about four minutes of prep time for these. Get the girls dressed. Throw a blanket on the lawn. Go go go. The sun dipped behind the buildings shortly after taking the last photo. It’s nice when things come together at the last minute.
Sometimes you just bathe the kids and force them to sit near a window as the sun sets so you can get some photos. I think it is important to make regularly scheduled photos of the girls, even if you have no great purpose. They’re just growing so dang fast.
A bunch of these came out really nice. I find I have a hard time editing out photos because I have emotional feelings about the subjects. So, you get bloated, unfocused galleries. No big deal.
I was playing with a diffusion filter I purchased recently. I think it added a pleasing, dreamy haze to some of the photos, even if it wasn’t quite the right light for it. In other photos, it kind of just looks, I don’t know, soft? Diffuse? That’s the point, of course, even if the outcome wasn’t exactly what I normally like.