Saturday, February 28, 2015

In the Footsteps of Claude-Joseph Désiré Charnay ( (1828-1915)- Photographing the Mayan Ruins at Uxmal with Dry Plate Collodion Negatives~

My husband and I are alternative process photographers that appreciate the historic photographic techniques of those who pioneered the medium. We are fortunate that our friends associated with The George Eastman House in Rochester, New York have the resources to share their knowledge of our photographic forefathers and to teach us those processes that are no longer regularly practiced and afford us the chance to learn how the art of photography morphed into what we know today. 

Furthermore, we have learned that the earlier photographic techniques produce an image that is more ethereal than those associated with modern digital images. There is something visceral about the salt prints or albumen prints made from dry or wet plate negatives that were cutting edge to our forefathers.

Although we did not enter the Mayan ruins of Uxmal with burros transporting our photographic equipment, we did utilize the same dry-plate process making glass negatives with box camera used by Charnay. We used sun exposure on silver nitrate sensitized paper to make prints from the negatives.

Our group which was under the leadership of Mark Osterman, process historian with The George Eastman House, was among the first photographers in more than 145 years to use make photographic glass plate collodion negatives at a Mayan site in Mexico. What an honor and privilege!

Those who protect the historic legacy of the Mayan provided us with guidance, support, and the opportunity to make history. Thanks to the Mexican government officials who paved our way at Dzibilchaltun and Uxmal. I truly feel blessed that we were provided with this chance.

And thanks to The George Eastman House for fostering an interest in these historic processes and providing opportunities for us to explore artistic expression using these esoteric alternative artistic methods.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Goodnight Mr. Nimoy~ Farewell & Fond Memories of a Childhood Icon –

Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the logic-focused Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek television series, passed into the great void at the age of 83 from COPD. His passing brings me sadness. But memories of his performances as the voice of reason on the Starship Enterprise bring a smile to my face that spreads warmth throughout my being.

No, I am not a latter day “Trekkie” that dresses up as a character in the various incarnations of the Star Trek pantheon to attend conventions. But as a child my siblings, neighborhood kids and I played Star Trek in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s; and I always grabbed the role of Mr. Spock.  I made pointy ears from construction paper. We fabricated construction paper phasers, cardboard transporters, and mimicked our favorite characters with the backyard serving as any number of distant planets peopled with diverse aliens.

Few people really considered at the time how groundbreaking Star Trek truly was in 1966 when it debuted with the most diverse cast in television history: Mr. Spock – a half human/half Vulcan alien (of Jewish heritage); Lt. Uhura, an African American woman; Mr. Sulu, an Asian American man; and Mr. Chekov, a Russian in the midst of the Cold War.

It as Mr. Nimoy’s Spock that kept me glued to the TV screen. I was mesmerized by his Vulcan mind meld and wished my human self could master that Vulcan neck pinch to subdue my enemies. I practiced the Vulcan Salute until I was proficient with both hands and wished all to “Live Long & Prosper” and continued to watch late night reruns of the series through the 1970’s during my university years.

Despite my affection for the campy, overacting by William Shatner as James T. Kirk, the lyrical accent of Mr. Scott as portrayed by James Doohan, and the curmudgeonly Dr. “Bones” McCoy played by DeForest Kelley, it was Mr. Spock that won my heart.

So rest in peace Mr. Nimoy.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Small Decision I Made 10 Years Ago That Changed My Life~

Ten years ago today, February 6, 2005, I took a risk that changed my life. Everyday since has been miraculous.

My story actually began the previous October before Halloween. At the age of 45 after years of dysfunctional relationships, I’d found sanity through Al Anon and spirituality through Doreen Virtue and yoga and divested myself of the most recent debacle of a significant other. I made a list of the qualities that I wanted in a life partner, edited, re-edited, checked it twice, three times, fourteen times, and then asked my angels and the universe to bring us together.

I subscribed to some online dating sights and had a lot of one-date wonders. But I knew my angels would bring me together with the right person at the right time. I had faith. But I also limited myself based upon my own prejudices – particularly with geographic location and the composition of the profile photo.

But I had an epiphany while enjoying a cruise in the Caribbean with my parental units, one of their best friends, and my brother and his now second ex-wife.  I decided I deserved happiness, joy, fulfillment, excitement, comfort, love and fun and that it just my require me stepping outside of my comfort zone.

When I arrived at my home after the holiday, I decided to broaden my opportunities and consider men outside my original narrow field of vision.  Ten years ago today I made the decision to respond to a contact from a man who was adorable with an amusing profile that was in a relatively inconvenient location and posted a cheesy photo of himself. We exchanged emails and I jumped off the ledge and gave him my cell phone number.

Tomorrow we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our first meeting, which we cherish more than our wedding anniversary. For both of us, it was a meeting that changed our lives.  From the first meeting we never looked back. He actually has 95% of the characteristics and qualities I wrote on my list, which I still carry in my wallet today.

Today, everyday is filled with gratitude. We met at the right time in our lives. We’d learned from prior relationships to accept one another as we are without judgment, to allow one another to enjoy activities and interests separately, to overlook petty annoyances, and to celebrate the experiences we share with gratitude.

My spiritual journey gave me the tools to appreciate a healthy relationship. I learned that I have no control over other people, places and things and that I have no right to try to change somebody. Experience teaches me to appreciate that if I try I will fail. I learned to embrace change.  I learned to think positively and to focus on my blessings.  I learned that it is important to show a loved one he or she is appreciated every day.

I urge you all to take a chance. You never know where it may lead.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Trying to Focus on Positivity While Digging Through Tax Documents~ A Plea for Simplification!

Once again it is time to start preparing to decipher the American tax code to file our income taxes for 2014.  Despite my intention to stay focused on the positive, it is truly difficult when sifting through the slings and arrows of outrageousness that Congress has thrust upon we citizens of the finest Republic in modern times.

While I would prefer a Value Added Tax, a flat tax or a National Sales Tax, in lieu of the income tax, the powers that be continue to pander to special interest groups and create ever more opaque and complex amendments to the tax code so that even tax lawyers are befuddled. And yet, if we taxpayer citizens call the IRS for advice and the representative on the phone gives us bad advice (which is a routine occurrence), the IRS gets a pass and we citizens are called to pay the piper.

This year I’ve called UNCLE!  I am an intelligent, well-educated woman; however, I’ve given up trying to calculate our taxes even with the assistance of the "intuitive, easy to understand" Turbo Tax for home and small businesses. And our small business has no employees! The fill in the blanks format is still too convoluted for me!  So we are engaging the services of my well-informed sister-in-law to save us from ourselves.

It shouldn’t be this hard. The tax code should not be taller my house much less the height of my cat snoozing on the floor in front of the fireplace. I wonder if any member of Congress has the ability to complete and file his or her own taxes?  While I do understand that accountants and tax lawyers want to stay employed, we citizens should not have to utilize the services of a paid professional unless we have extraordinarily unusual scenarios, diverse sources of income, significant capital gains, losses from investments, or have neglected to file for a number of years.

So again I call for reform. Rather than certain segments of the voting public concentrating on issues that are really none of their business such as gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research and the compulsory insurability of birth control, I submit that uniting to enact tax reform would be a far better direction to expend one’s efforts. Everybody is affected by taxes.  These other issues should be left to the individual.