Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge - Simple

A photo of a building is pretty simple.  The building itself may or may not be simple in construct, but taking a picture of one is simple enough. It is large, so fills most of the view. It doesn’t move around or get obscured by pesky shadows. So, for this week’s photo challenge, I decided to take a photo of a building. 

It is a big, square office building without a lot of architectural interest. What distinguishes this building is that the exterior is composed almost entirely of glass windows that reflect the sky and thus seem to emit its bluish hue. In Kennewick, Washington, it is commonly referred to as the “Flashcube” building. I’m not sure if anyone younger than 30 or so calls it that. If they do, they certainly have no first-hand understanding of the term.

To those of us a little older than 30 (or so), the name is very apt and just seeing the building can stir up deep-seated nostalgia. For some, they will recall the late 1960’s when Kodak first came out with their ‘Flashcube’ that would allow four flash photos in a row on their ‘Instamatic’ camera. I remember using these, as well as Polaroid cameras, as a kid in the 1970’s.


All ancient history, as technology now allows us all to whip out our smart phones and snap a high quality flash photo without having to insert a flash on top while hoping that you haven’t forgotten to change the bulb after that fourth shot, right?
Upon a brief perusal of the Sunday paper, I find both Kodak and Polaroid making the news. Does the news reveal that the brands of my youth are still as young and vibrant as I am? Alas, not as far as Kodak is concerned, who finally threw in the towel and declared bankruptcy. I read that they are planning to restructure and hope to capture some elite high-end photo printing customers. Not the same as the good ole ‘Instamatic’.
The news involving Polaroid is more positive, but is still a nod to the past. The article celebrates a display of professional photographer Robert Frank’s images taken in the 1970’s. What is interesting about this story is that it reminds us of a time when it was new and revolutionary to take everyday photos of simple subjects and to expose these ordinary people, places, and things in our lives to the world. Of course, Frank was a professional and still far exceeds us novices in his skill of light and composition, even with our fancy user-friendly digital cameras. However, many of us do take after his documentary style of capturing the simple images of things we see or care about or find interesting.
I am not a professional photographer, although I enjoy taking pictures. I remember using the ‘Flashcube’, although I have spent more years using a digital camera than an ‘Instamatic’. This week, I am celebrating simple images with a ‘flash’ from the past. I wonder for how much longer people will recall waving a Polaroid photo in the air to encourage the appearance of the image or will use the expression “Kodak Moment” to describe a sweet or funny time they want to remember. People do still say that sometimes, don’t they?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

Today, what brought me the most peace was going out alone into a ice-covered world, knowing that there was a cozy home awaiting my return.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Still Smiling

When my two front teeth grew in, they were big. I have no memories of other kids teasing me or calling me rabbit-inspired nicknames. However, with my new front teeth and a "pixie" haircut that my mother swears was in style in the early 70's, my second grade school picture leaves something to be desired. Although my chompers were big, they came in straight and worked well for their intended function and I loved to smile.

On the Friday morning before Valentine's Day when I was a junior in high school, I took a shower upstairs. I dressed in school colors. In stocking feet, I picked up my boom box (the kind that had detachable speakers) in one hand and my pajamas in my other and headed back to my room. On the third step, I slipped and fell. I landed on my butt and thuded down a couple more stairs. My pj's and radio were still in my hands, but one of the speakers was detached. I felt no pain, but my tongue felt a big hole where my front right tooth should be. Needless to say, I screamed. My mom came running to discover what had happened. Then my little brother came. His job was to look for my missing tooth. Below were I sat holwing, there were about five more stairs, a landing, and then four more stairs going both to the right and to the left. After about two long minutes of frantic searching, I heard my brother say, "Oh my God, is this it?!" as he held up an impossibly long white object. Indeed it was. A tooth with its root intact is surprising long, especially one of my big front teeth. My mom wrapped the tooth in a wet cloth and I held another one to my bloody gums. Dad came home to help. He called a family friend who was an excellent dentist at his home as it was before office hours. He agreed to meet us at his office, where he successfully placed the tooth back in its socket. He performed a root canal and sent me on my way, with the warning that I had probably a twenty percent chance of keeping it.

Over the years, the tooth turned a little gray. I finished high school, college, graduate school, moved out west, got married; and still the tooth remained. My current dentist has kept a careful watch and has improved the look of the tooth using composite material. Still, it's big and I have an overbite with extra space between my top teeth. I secretly wished that my teeth had come in crooked so I would have had braces to fix them long ago. As an adult, I never wanted to spend the money and I was used to the way I looked. I still loved to smile.

On last Thanksgiving morning, the gums around my tooth were sore and swollen. I waited until my dental cleaning the following Friday, but the gums were still irritated. I asked the dentist to take another look at my tooth. Comparing x-rays taken over the past many years, he repeated his assertion made four years earlier that the bone was resorbing and the tooth was not being held in very tightly. He pointed to the lack of supporting structure on the x-ray and showed how it has diminished over time. He recommeded that I take control of the situation and, rather than waiting for my tooth to break loose one day, I should begin a course of treatments to fix my teeth properly. First, orthodontics to pull my teeth in and closer together; then oral surgery to extract my tooth; healing time with a temporary tooth; and finally a permanent implant. In the end, my teeth will look the way I always wanted. I was ready.

That's what I thought before I had the braces put on last week. Now my mouth hurts, I can only eat soft foods which subsequently get all stuck in my teeth, the inside of my cheeks are scraped where the hooks and wire ends make contact, it feels weird to kiss my daughter or husband, and I can't whistle. With all the ground-breaking technology out there, braces seem very archaic. I'm sure there are simple ways to make them at least a little more comfortable. All these complaints and I don't even have to have spacers or rubber bands like some poor brace-sufferers. I have a new-found respect for teens with braces. At least it was my own choice to get braces; and I know I will be happy with the results at the end of this two-year torture.

I still love to smile.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year

There is something about the start of the new year. Even though I try to resist making resolutions, I can't help but secretly resolve to make this year better than the last. I find myself signing up for a 21-Day Yoga Challenge. I am drawn to stories about dying people's regrets and resolve to avoid having the same. I conciously make myself be more present when playing with my daughter. At the first sign of sun and warmer temperatures, I get outside to walk and run and play and do yardwork. And here I am, writing on my blog - not because I have a particular story to tell or share something I have written, but to just write my thoughts and to practice writing to become a better writer. So, there you have it, I am a hopeless optimist and have gone ahead and made all kinds of resolutions in spite of myself. Above all, I resolve to strive for more moments that make me and my loved ones feel like this:

Happy New Year!