Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Out of the mouths of kids...

So I was driving my kids somewhere yesterday, and the radio person was talking about Barack Obama. Upon hearing Obama's name, Delaney immediately said "Daddy! They said 'Rock Obama!' 'Rock' Obama, daddy!" (Yes, she calls him "Rock" Obama). Whereupon the following exchange ensued:

Troy: They must be trying to get votes, because they are talking about Barack Obama.

Me: What's that, buddy?

Troy: I said someone must be trying to get votes, because they said Barack Obama.

Delaney: I voted for Strawberry Shortcake!

Me: Really, Baby Girl? You voted for Strawberry Shortcake?

Delaney: Yeah, I did!

Troy: Oh Sis, you can't vote for Strawberry Shortcake, because she's not running for mayor! Silly girl!

I love those kids.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Year Later

I haven't written anything here in nearly 4 months. There have been times when I've had things to write, but just haven't done so, for a variety of reasons, I suppose. But today I want to note the first anniversary of the day I received word that my kids would not be allowed to have me taken out of their lives. It was one year ago this morning that I was on my way to a construction site, cruising down I-5, when I received word from my attorney that the custody evaluator saw the value of the relationships I have with my kids, and recognized that relocating them to Los Angeles would do them no good.

In the past year, my relationships with them have only grown stronger, I feel that I've become an even better father than what the evaluator saw, and I've really done everything I can to raise them in the best ways I know how. I feel that the three of us are extremely close to one another.

Last weekend we had some pictures taken. These were mostly done as an 80th birthday present for my grandma, but I couldn't help but buy a whole bunch more. Here are a few of my favorites:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Viva Friedlander

So the trip to New Mexico went very well. I met Lee and Maria Friedlander Friday night, and they are both very friendly, cordial people. I didn’t get to take the picture of Lee that I had hoped for, but I did manage to grab a digital snap as he was signing books.

Lee and Maria Friedlander

Saturday and Sunday (up until my flight) were spent wandering the streets of Santa Fe and Albuquerque with my camera. The weather and the light were perfect. Sunny, clear skies, and about 75 degrees. I photographed my shadow all over those towns.

Above I mentioned carrying a digital camera to take a picture at the book signing. The digital camera came out again briefly Sunday, in downtown Albuquerque, and produced the picture below. I’ll leave it to your imagination to determine which of the four prohibited activities this guy is participating in.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh, It's On Now

I have become a huge fan of Lee Friedlander in the past two years. The body of work he has produced over the past 50 years is most impressive, and he continues to be very productive today, even at 74 years of age. When I saw his shows in San Francisco in April, one curator told me that Friedlander was in Japan photographing at that time, and that he would have two books published this year. A well-known photographer told me last year that, in his opinion, “nobody is more consistently inventive than Lee Friedlander.”

I think that my new interest in Friedlander’s work was at least partially precipitated by the recent changes in my life. I turned to 35mm photography last year as a result of new demands on my time. As I was trying to save my marriage and my kids from divorce, I completely shelved my large format equipment. Weekend outings with my camera came to an end, and all of my waking hours not spent working were devoted to my family. My kids’ mother decided that wasn’t good enough and the divorce eventually happened, but the effect on my photography has lasted. I have not made a large format photograph in over a year and a half now. I have sold two of my lenses, which I never imagined I would do.

But I continue to photograph, and fairly often. It’s easy to grab pictures with a 35mm camera on a lunch break. Or during a trip to the park with the kids. Or while waiting in a drive-thru at a coffee shop. In the introduction to his book of Frederick Law Olmsted landscapes, Friedlander writes “We photographers don’t really make anything: we peck at the world and try to find something curious or wild or beautiful that might fit into what the medium of photography can hold.” What a wonderful quote from someone who has used handheld cameras his entire career. We peck at the world.

Friedlander will be opening a show and signing his latest book, New Mexico, at a gallery in Santa Fe on October 31st. And I’ll be there. I may never have the opportunity to meet him again, so I’m seizing this one. And I already have a photograph in mind for when I meet him…

I can hardly wait.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Rally Cry

I’ve always been one to remember dates and (mostly useless) trivia. I can often tell you where I was and what I was doing years ago on a particular date, and I can often make odd connections between things that occur on the same date, but years apart. For example, I can tell you that the cocker spaniel my sister and I had for a pet died on the 100th anniversary of Ansel Adams’ birth—February 20th, 2002. I recently won a bet with a friend who claimed Oregon State had never played a football game on a Thursday night before they played USC two weeks ago. I knew this because I remembered them playing a Thursday night game on August 31, 2006, which was the 25th anniversary of the day I started first grade.

I’m crazy.

Today is the second anniversary of the day I went to Hawaii for the first (and only) time. I flew there on October 6, 2006, for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was in Honolulu on the 7th, and I stayed there and on the Big Island for 6 more days afterward. I had worked my ass off during all of 2006, and that was to be a week of relaxation and photography of an exotic landscape I had never seen before.

But I was unable to really relax at all. My work back home just dominated my thoughts, and I was fighting back as hard as I could against another onset of depression. I also missed my son and baby daughter tremendously. I clearly remember my son (2 years old at the time) telling me that “next time I want to go on ‘bacation’ with you, Daddy.” That made it very hard to leave.

While I was in Hawaii, I heard a country song that was getting a lot of play at the time. It was by Rodney Atkins, and the chorus went:

“If you're going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there.

If you're going through hell
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there.”

It was a catchy tune that found its way to my ears at a very appropriate time.

And now it seems I need to live by that song’s rally cry more than ever. The pressures are almost as high as they’ve ever been in my life, but now other problems have piled on. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have those kids there to greet me at the end of all these shitty days. But I’ll always be thankful that I still have that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I finally told Troy last night about the changes that are coming. He had been led to believe that our family would be putting the house up for sale so that we could move closer to my job. As a family. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by anything any more, but that one was shocking nonetheless. He looked at me with bright, cheery eyes and told me that we would be listing our house for sale and then moving to be closer to my work. I got a lump in my throat and told him the truth.

He seemed to grasp the reality of the situation immediately. His face started to sag, and he said "I want to stay together as a family and not get a divorce. I want to stay married. I'm trying to hold back the tears, but they are coming to my eyes and it's hard to stop them."

I was heartbroken. I told him that it's okay to cry. I told him that I had done everything I could to prevent a divorce, and that the decision wasn't mine to make. He told me he needed to go find his mother to tell her that this is a bad idea. He went off to find her, and I helped him. As soon as he told her what he thought, she tried to skirt the issue as best she could, but was unsuccessful. Yes, Troy, you get to go pick raspberries today. And yes, the neighbor boy invited you over to watch a TV show. And no, Daddy won't be living with you any more. That's just the way it is going to be, no matter how much better you and your sister deserve.

I did tell him that I will always be here for him and his sister, and that he can always come to talk to me about this. I told him that he can ask me whatever questions he has, he can express any fears or hurt feelings he has, and that I will always tell him the truth. He deserves to be told the truth, not to go on in a candy-coated, la-la land world of fiction and fabrications.

Recent happier times

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fathers and Sons, III

My dad, my son, and me (and my sister's dog)


And I said "Daddy, I'm so afraid

how will I go on with you gone that way?"

...And he said "That's my job; that's what I do.

Everything I do is because of you,

To keep you safe with me.

That's my job, you see."

-From another country song

Needless to say, this will be a much happier Father's Day than last year's was. It should be a great weekend, relatively speaking.