Pictures Of My Foot

Back when I was active professionally in photography a consistent problem I had was remembering whether or not I had advanced the film and cocked the shutter. As a result I would often point the camera down and press the release. About 50% of the time nothing would happen and I would then advance the film and take the picture. The rest of the times I would end up with an out of focus image of my foot.

At one point I tried turning the camera toward my face and looking but after temporarily blinding myself when the strobe went off right in front of my eyes I returned to collecting more photos of my foot.

It’s a habit I never have conquered. Even with digital cameras I still end up with images of my foot quite often.

How Not To Photograph A Creek

During the years I lived in the Dallas area my favorite spot to go on my days off was a neat little place in Oklahoma, not very far past the state line.

It’s called Turner Falls. The waterfall there is simply beautiful. There are lots of hiking trails and things to explore.

Adventures? Oh yeah, and on one visit I managed to have one that was typical. I was photographing the creek considerably below the falls and decided I wanted to get a view from the middle of the creek. It was rather shallow and I found a place where I could step on several large rocks and actually be right in the middle of the flow without getting wet.

As I stood there, intent on focusing my camera, a splash of cold creek water hit my right ankle. Without thinking I quickly moved my foot. My balance was already precarious and that sudden movement resulted in my rear-end landing in the icy cold water of the creek. The people who were watching said they had never seen such wild scrambling to get back to dry land. I wasn’t hurt but from the waist down I was wet and miserable.

By the way, just as I plopped into the creek I accidentally clicked the shutter. The resulting picture was of my left foot just as it hit the water.

That was the first and last time I ventured into the middle of a creek with a camera.

First Visit To Lake Tahoe – Part 2

After a restful sleep we were up early and ready for a day of exploring.

After a nice breakfast at one of the casinos we headed over to Emerald Bay on the west shore. There I finally got my first good view of the lake. My reaction was contained in one short word. “WOW!”

We parked the car and took the trail down to Vikingsholm. It turned out to be about a one mile walk. Yet, due to the steepness of the trail and the altitude, our return back up to the parking lot seemed more like two miles. We had to stop numerous times while we huffed and puffed.

We continued our drive, stopping often, but eventually making it all the way around the lake and back to the casino area.

As we sat in a restaurant having dinner we both knew without a doubt that someday we would live at Lake Tahoe.

And sure enough that dream came true in the late 1980s.

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Strangeness

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There’s never been any doubt that the apartment we live in is haunted. The presence we’ve both felt here has always seemed to be friendly and never gone beyond doing little things like making noises or thumps.

Now something new has started. Something is turning on the hot water in the bathroom sink. It’s happened several mornings in a row. Each time I’ll suddenly hear water running and when I walk into the bathroom the faucet will be turned on about a quarter of the way and steaming hot water will be running into the sink. I’m the only one present when it happens and I know I didn’t leave the water on.

We’re preparing to move to another place and frankly I’m glad since these ghosts or whatever seem to be getting more energetic.

First Visit To Lake Tahoe – Part 1

In the 1980s we were on a trip out west. We stopped at the junction of US 6 and SR 120 to get gas. I wanted to go to Yosemite so we asked if Tioga Pass was open. We were told they were still clearing the winter snow so it was still closed.

We headed west on SR 120. That road was a constantly up and down affair, like a roller coaster made up of continuous small dips. When we got to US 395 we followed it north and just outside of the town of Lee Vining we came to the junction of Tioga road. Sure enough, it was closed.

I really wanted to see Yosemite but we would have to go considerably out of the way to get there. My wife said that was ok, we could visit Lake Tahoe on the way. I’d never been there…in fact I’d never even heard of it.

It was already dark as we drove on through Lee Vining and continued northward. After what seemed like forever we entered the little town of Gardnerville and then Minden. Just outside Minden we pulled into a rest area.

I asked my wife how much further was Tahoe and she said it was up in the mountains just west of us. I told her I was exhausted and asked her to drive. We changed places and she headed for the mountains.

When we got over to the foothills things seemed a bit confusing for there was an arrow and a sign that said Lake Tahoe yet there was a partial barricade and a second arrow pointing a different direction. We finally decided to take the road that looked like it headed up the mountain to the lake.

After following what seemed like the narrowest and curve-filled road imaginable we finally arrived at the casinos. Since I had never been in a casino we parked and went into a couple of them for a little while. Soon, however, exhaustion overcame us and we found a nice motel room close by for some much needed rest.

In a future post I’ll continue this with the events of the next day when I actually got my first view of the lake.

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Staying Cool

In the 1940s and

1950s it was not only the public schools that didn’t have air conditioning. We lived in three different houses during those years and none of them had it. The first one had only small table fans, the second had a big window fan, and the third had an attic fan.

Although most businesses were air conditioned many smaller shops were not. Residential air conditioning was only enjoyed by the wealthy.

We didn’t get our first air conditioner until I was in high school and then only because my grandparents had central air and heat installed in their home and gave us their window unit.

The day it was installed in our living room the outside temperature was 95 degrees. After the installer left we each got a dining room chair and just sat in front of the unit for awhile. That cool air felt wonderful.

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Schools

When I started to school we were living on North Avenue in Woodland Heights.

I first attended Travis Elementary on Beauchamp Street, which was within walking distance of our house. In kindergarten I once was given a gold star for taking the best nap. I think that was the only award I ever received during all my years in public school.

When I was in the 3rd grade we moved across town and I went to River Oaks Elementary. I recall my first teacher there was Mrs. Warner.

After elementary I went to Lanier Junior High School and then to Lamar Senior High where I graduated in 1957.

All of those schools are still in operation and I bet they have something that we didn’t back in the 40s and 50s. Air conditioning. All we had was big pedestal fans and open windows with no screens. You can imagine what that was like in Houston with its 90 degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity?

It Wasn’t The Highway Patrol

It was already dark as we were heading east on our way back home from a trip to Yosemite. We topped a pass and immediately noticed the flashing red light of a patrol car on the far side of the valley below.

“Uh-oh,” I said. “Looks like the police have someone pulled over. Probably for speeding.”

It took us quite awhile to get down to the valley floor since we were on one of those twisty roads. My grandmother said those kind of roads were so crooked they would break a snake’s back. Anyway, all the time we were coming down we continued to get glimpses of that patrol car’s light.

Even as we drove across the valley we could occasionally still see the flashing light. My wife allowed as how whoever they had stopped must have a big problem.

Soon it became evident that whatever was happening was on the same road we were on.

As we arrived at the intersection of another road we quickly discovered the truth and burst out laughing. There was no car or truck pulled over by the highway patrol. The flashing red light we had been seeing was mounted on the roof of a brothel.

San Antonio

One summer when I was still quite young my mother and dad took my sister and I to San Antonio.

I had gotten my very own Kodak Brownie camera for Christmas and I was going to finally get to really try it out.

We visited all of the tourist spots and historic places. The Alamo, the rose window at Mission San Jose, the Chinese Sunken Gardens at Breckenridge Park, and the Buckhorn Saloon.

But the river walk appealed to me most of all. It instantly became my favorite place. We walked the entire length of it, crossed a footbridge and walked back to where we had started. After re-crossing the river we had dinner at the Casa Rio.

A few days ago I came across some of the pictures I took there with my Brownie Camera on 127 black and white Verichrome film. Some of them were considerably better than what I produce today with my fancy digital outfit.

Note: The image below is from the internet…not from my Brownie camera.

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Befriended By An Ant

Here’s a kind of funny thing that happened a few years ago.

I was working a part time job on weekends as a front desk clerk at one of the timeshare resorts. It was a rather small complex as timeshares go. It was a quiet Sunday and since the weather was quite agreeable I decided to sit on the deck just outside of the office and enjoy nature.

As I quietly sat there I happened to notice a large ant scurrying across the other side of the deck from me. I said, “Hello brother ant. Beautiful day, isn’t it?” And the ant stopped, then turned toward me. It sat still for a few moments, then took a few steps in my direction. I said, “Fear not, I am not one of those who would squash you.” The ant then retraced its steps and continued in the direction it had been traveling.

I watched it as it moved to the end of the deck and onto a low retaining wall. It soon came to a crack in the wall and stopped. Momentarily another ant, a smaller one, appeared and they both came back in my direction. When they arrived across the deck from where I was sitting, the little ant stopped but the big one came forward just like before. The little ant stayed put. Again, I spoke quietly to the ant. It moved forward again and got to within about an inch of my foot.. Then it stopped and just looked at me for awhile. I didn’t receive any communication but I had the impression that the big ant was showing the little ant that I was a trusted friend.

Suddenly the ant turned around and walked back to rejoin the little ant. They both went back to the crack in the wall and disappeared. I didn’t see either of them after that.