Zebra's Child

Living With Common Variable Immune Deficiency and It's Autoimmune Friends

Category: Changes

Experimenting With Color

I am beginning to learn how I can change the look of a photo by manually manipulating the color, saturation, etc. Below is an example.

Before

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After

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All Images: Zebras Child 2019

I rather like it.

Reference Point

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Does this image make you a little dizzy? Or perhaps off balance? It should. Yet it is merely a photo of a wrought iron railing. The difference is the reference point. We are used to making solid, constant things our reference points. In this case you would probably not be at all uneasy if I had taken the photo with the building straight on the horizontal and thus made the railing diagonal. That is, after all, how we stand when we look at things. But by making the bottom of the railing horizontal to the bottom of the picture frame (even if it doesn’t appear that way because on the descent of the steps), it makes you feel rather topsy turvy.

I have taken photographs for years. Decades even. But I now find that I have the time and the energy to start learning the craft seriously. Even with much technical skill to learn, however, there is one thing I have always known: that photography, as is true of any art form, must elicit an emotional response from the viewer. It may be awe, discomfort, outrage, sorrow, amazement, a feeling of being drawn in to the photograph, or even that sharp intake of breath that signifies absolute wonder. But a feeling must exist in the viewer or otherwise to them, it is just a picture. Not everyone will necessarily react the same way to the same work of art, or even to the same artist. But if a photograph doesn’t move someone, then it remains an object, not art.

Painters, musicians, writers, potters, photographers, dancers – at a fundamental level, we are all trying to do the same thing. We are all trying to get good enough at our craft to convey what we feel when we encounter the world.

And that is a life long process.

Looking Through a Glass Door

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Neighborhood: Piedmont Ave, Oakland                Image: Zebras Child 2019

And seeing both the construction site inside and the street reflected behind me.

Strange Weather

It’s raining today in the East Bay and in San Francisco. In May. This is not usual. At all. Below is a photo that I took back in March, but it nonetheless shows what it looks like outside today.

If you look closely, you will see that the center of the plant in the foreground is a little hazy. That’s because the vent (also in the foreground) is discharging steam from a dryer. It’s fantastic to look at it as a live shot or a loop, but my site doesn’t support motion. So use your imagination to picture the waves of steam billowing forth. And enjoy the image on this rainy day.

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Neighborhood: Adams Point, Oakland                     Image: Zebras Child 2019

Under Construction 2019

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Under Construction                         Image: Zebras Child 2019

The theme I use, Manifest, is now retired, and so I find that I am unable to use the most recent tools to  write a post (such as Block Editor). So, an announcement:

New Theme, New Look Coming Soon

I may even experiment with different themes over the next several weeks, so hang on.

P.S. ~I would REALLY appreciate your feedback: what you like, what you don’t like, suggestions concerning what themes you use and why you like them. I’m doing much more Photography than I did in the past, so that also comes into play in terms of choosing themes THANKS!  ~Hannah 

Tuesday Tea

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Image: Zebras Child 2019

I know I said I would just post photos for at least a week, but I want to tell you the history of this kettle.

The predecessor to this kettle was given to me by husband about 15 years ago. I had fallen in love with it through a store window up in Mendocino, California while I was visiting my mom. Let me remind you that my husband was the cook of the family, so it was his kitchen. He didn’t want to replace our large Revere Ware kettle with anything else because the Revere kettle could hold enough water to make enough drip coffee for guests all in one go. And there was nothing wrong with it. I couldn’t argue with that, but eventually the little plastic bit that enabled you to lift the small lid and pour, broke, as plastic bits are prone to do. Revere no longer made those extra large kettles, so he agreed to get me one of these wonderful pure copper English kettles for my birthday.

We used that one happily for about 12 years. But alas, we had originally bought the design that could only be used on a gas stove. Our retirement community only has electric stoves, so we needed a replacement. But in the intervening years, the price for these kettles had shot up a whopping 300%. That is not a typo. The original copper works factory that had been making these kettles for over 100 years found it too expensive to continue to operate and had closed down. These kettles had gone overnight from being ubiquitous in England and passed down from mother to daughter, to trendy and rare. Only the quantity that remained in the warehouse existed. I told him how much they now cost. He paled a little, but then said, “Sweet Love, I know how much you have loved using this kind of kettle. No matter the price, I will still get you a new one for your birthday. He did, and I think of him every morning as I fill the pot with water and turn on the electric stove.

Caught In a Web

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Aloe Vera Plant and a Web                                             Image: Zebras Child 2019

The past week has been exhausting. In a mostly good way, but exhausting none the less. Observing Holy Week, celebrating Passover with my Jewish older daughter, her husband and my grandkids, and sadly, going through both holidays for the first time after my husband’s death. I still can’t get used to the singular pronoun of “my” grandkids for instance, rather than “our” grandkids. Each time I find myself erasing the word our and replacing it with the word my it is an additional reminder of loss.

I need to rest, and I have decided for the next week at least, to focus just on my photography rather than both my writing and my photography. I find both activities healing, but in trying to post five times a week, I find that I have time and energy for little else. I have loved getting immersed again in both and trying to re hone my skills in both. But the apartment needs to be cleaned, I rather desperately need to shop to replace my glacially slow 6 year old laptop, and above all, I need sleep. Massive amounts of it, actually. Perhaps as I put up a photo some words might occur to me, but I make no promises. So I hope you enjoy the process as I experiment more with my camera and start to retrain my eye.

The Return of Grief

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Unexpectedly, this week has been an especially hard one in terms of the death of my husband. It has hit me hard, because, well, as I mentioned, it was unexpected. I don’t think that it is necessarily this hard because it is Holy Week, although I’m sure that doesn’t help. Rather it seems to have been a series of seemingly small things that have hit me like small blows, one after another, each one adding to the impact.

It started on Monday night with a concert. We have concerts in our building every Monday evening, and since my husband’s death, I have been choosing to sit off to the side and in the back, rather than our normal place close to the front, so that I could leave discretely if I felt too tired or too overwhelmed with memories. But this past Monday night, there was an empty seat right next to a good friend and I chose to sit there. It was in the third row, a place where my husband and I often managed to sit by arriving as soon as the doors into the performance space were opened. Our favorite cellist was playing this past Monday, and in the past, I have always wanted to sit as close as I can to her so I could watch her fingering and bowing. So I didn’t give it a second thought as I sat down four nights ago, simply glad that I had found a seat so close when most of the seats were already occupied. But then the cellist and the double bass player bowed the first note, and within five measures I found myself weeping, partly because the music was so beautiful, but mostly because it was impossible not to remember all of the string concerts here that my husband and I had enjoyed together.

After that, the week just seemed to pile up one assault of memory after another. Tuesday I was taking the dog out for her last walk before bed because our friends who normally do the last walk of the day are away. As I turned around to walk back home, I saw the lights on our skilled nursing floor and remembered looking up every night a year ago to find the room that my husband was in. In April of last year, he was still alive and awaiting the surgery to remove his gallbladder. It was before the fall that proved fatal, and at this time last year, we had every reason to believe that after the surgery, he would recover well and return to our apartment on the 10th floor.

Everything about this time of year reminds me of the hope that I had for his full recovery: the fact that it is still light after dinner, the temperature that’s running in the high 70s, and the way the light hits newly blooming flowers. I have been crying hard every day this week, and I haven’t done that in months. Certainly I have moments and days now when his death hits me hard, but I thought I was done with this constant grief that presses down on me and makes it difficult to find joy in anything. Each night I go to bed hoping that I will wake up in the morning without this stone weighing down my heart, but for now, at least, it seems to have settled in.

My Heart Is With the People of France

 

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Un immeuble à Paris                                                      Image: Zebras Child 2015

 

Almost four years ago my husband and I got on a plane and flew to France. This was a trip of a lifetime for us, and one that we both knew might be the only long distance trip we both could take, given our health conditions. After hearing for over 4 decades about his two years living outside of Paris as a boy, he finally got to show me his beloved city and I, too, fell in love.

We spent the first week in Paris, and then joined a tour of Normandy for the second week. I wished we could stay in France an entire month, rather than a scant two weeks. I arrived feeling like I had the French of a two year old, and came home to California answering every simple question in French, because I had trouble moving the switch in my brain back to English.

I wish I were in Paris now. Just to stand in solidarity with the French as they mourn the damage to Paris’ heart. La cathédrale de Notre Dame is the symbol of constancy, of reliability, of soul, to the French. It is something that holds fast through plague, war and famine. Construction started in 1163. 1163! We Americans cannot conceive of a building that old unless we have traveled outside the United States. It took 200 years to build. Stone upon stone, upward toward the heavens, the walls so heavy they had to be supported from the outside in order to stand up. Everything else in life may come and go in France: kings, governments, invading armies. But Notre Dame stands constant, the heart of the city. That heart has been damaged, and France mourns.

Mon coeur est avec toi, mes amis.

Schubert Bliss

Almost 7 months to the day since my husband died, I am finding  that a sense of peace often settles over me. I’m not saying that there is not still grief, or that I don’t still miss him. There is, and I still do. But I am finding that as time goes by, I am remembering more and more often our many decades together when he was not sick, and remembering less the awfulness of the illnesses that preceded his dying.

Last night I went with two friends to a small concert venue to hear an evening of music written by Schubert. As an Austrian composer of the late 18th and early 19th century, he was unusual in that he not only composed music for small and large orchestra, but also wrote transcendently beautiful art songs for voice. Saturday was an evening of both.

I am fortunate. Much of music speaks directly to my soul. It bypasses my analytical brain and goes straight to my heart and fills me with a sense of peace and beauty. Sometimes it feels as if the music inhabits me and I sense little boundary between me and it.

Such was last night, and I realized, not for the first time, that the intense grief of my husband’s death has continued to lessen, giving me space to exist in the world. Such is the grace of time, I think, and love. As I sat there fully present in the music, I realized that this is exactly what he would want for me. He would not want me to stop living after his death, but rather fully embrace life for the both of us.