I got a kick out of this Steller’s Jay outside my studio window a few weeks ago when it was almost 20 below zero. I’ve seen birds puffed up to stay warm before but he took it to a whole new level.
As soon as I post this I’m headed back home to Montana after spending two weeks in Wichita, first attending my father’s funeral and then attending to his affairs and moving my mother into a very nice duplex in the independent living section of a retirement community. Yesterday the last of the household goods she did not move were hauled away from the old house and I put it on the market. There is nothing special about this house, or this story for that matter; it’s repeated every day, everywhere. Except that for me it is special, as your own (perhaps equally unremarkable story) is to you. My parents lived in this house just a few weeks short of 50 years, and I, along with my two brothers and sister, spent most of my youth there. Short of Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best, life in this house in the 60s was as quintessentially American as you could get at the time. Today, for better or for worse, the American Dream has moved on I think (or at least fractured into many different dreams compared to 50 years ago). And my family has moved on too, for better or for worse.
This junkyard scene reminded me of a line from an old comedy skit from the 70s, I think by the Firesign Theater. In the skit some immigrants from Europe coming over on a boat to the U.S. are chatting about their hopes and dreams for their new lives in America. One says something about working hard and putting his kids through college; another says his dream was to start his own business and make it grow. The third replies “…and I can’t wait to put a ’54 Chevy up on blocks in my front yard.” Or at least that’s how I remember the skit several decades later. Anyway, there are obviously a lot of dimensions to the American Dream.
A number of years ago I took a photo of an old American flag hanging in a cabin window in the ghost town of Cherry Creek Nevada (you can see it here). I called it Patriot’s Dream, a title which has generated a number of interpretations. Since then I’ve gradually been collecting other photos of real and painted American flags, generally derelict looking and/or in unusual locations. So, I’m starting a series using the Patriot’s Dream title and will post some of the more recent ones as POTDs over the next few days. Most if not all of the recent photos of flags I’ve converted to black and white images, although I’m not sure that’s the best way to present them since the colors of the flag are so important. Any comments on the pros and cons or the relative impact of black and white vs. color American flag photos are welcome.
I thought these ladders leaning against the wall of a hardware store had the look of a big-city skyline.
Now that POTD is obviously back, I want to thank everyone who sent condolences on my father’s death a week ago. I think the incredible amount of paperwork and decision making required to deal with the death of a parent, along with the additional effort required to make sure the surviving spouse is well-situated (in this case involving my mother’s move to a new house and readying the old place for sale) is nature’s way of easing the grieving process by not allowing you to dwell on your lose for any sustained length of time on any particular day. Being forced to deal with other pressing issues at the same time keeps the loss from being too overwhelming. All-in-all I’d rather be out photographing, but other than that I am doing well. Thanks again everyone for the expressions of support.
My father, Wallace Blackwood, passed away early this morning. I don’t know why I’m even bothering posting a POTD at a time like this except that he always enjoyed them, so this is a fitting tribute in a way. As such, it is totally inadequate as a means of expressing what this man meant to me and how wonderfully he shaped my life, but it’s the best I can do. I took this photo just the day before yesterday when I was in Wichita to help my parents get ready to move to assisted living. Like most photos, this one does not tell the whole story of his situation at the time, but those who knew him will not be surprised to see that in spite of his pain and discomfort the last photograph of him was with his nose buried in a book, in this case a book of Sudoku puzzles that he couldn’t seem to put down.
POTD is going to be on hiatus for a few days. It will return when acting normal seems to be the best medicine for me.