Time in a Bottle

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View of the western side of downtown Cincinnati

For the summer, at least, it would seem I’ve given up on writing on Saturdays. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It means I’m busy doing something else, instead of sitting at home writing. Today I’m sitting at home because 1) I’m tired, 2) my feet are killing me, 3) I have photos to edit, and 4) I have ribs to cook. These are important things. My feet are sore from years of abuse, between shoes and excess weight, added to the wonky hips and back already; I have to find the paper with referrals for podiatrists. This getting old thing sucks.

So, now what?

It’s been four weeks since my tooth extraction. The hole is filling in, which is weird. Can’t help but imagine all these little fibers of gum being thrown from one side of the chasm to the other by teeny mountaineers, making the hole whole again. Sorry, couldn’t help it.

I’m still reeling from the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou. I don’t know why, it’s not like she’s the first major personality in my life to pass, and she surely won’t be the last. It wasn’t even a shock, really. Just two days before, on her Facebook page, she’d mentioned that she had to cancel an event due to a medical emergency, with doctors suggesting she not travel.

Maya Angelou
May 26
An unexpected medical emergency caused me the greatest disappointment of having to cancel my visit to the Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game ceremony. I am so proud to be selected as its honoree. However, my doctors told me it would be unadvisable for me to travel at that time. My thanks to Robin Roberts for speaking up for me and thank you for all your prayers. I am each day better.

Why has that hit me so hard? All I can figure is so many of the figures I grew up with, looked up to, are aging, and reaching the point where their bodies simply wear out. Hers wore out. Still, I’m here. Bruised, broken, at times beaten, but here. I go on.*

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A group of people working together to create an atmosphere. No one trying to be the star, but allowing others if they so chose.

Dr. Angelou’s passing usurped the original topic of that day, the event I attended put on by Cincinnati Flow Arts and Drum Circle. It’s something I’d been meaning to do, not so much to be there and hoop or dance or “be,” but to photograph and observe, in an atmosphere where I didn’t feel like I had to hide to get the shot I wanted. It was an interesting evening. I actually hadn’t planned on going anywhere. It was Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, and a few days from the end of the month, so work was a little – chaotic. Tuesday is my day to stay until 5, so usually I come home Tuesday really worn out. This past Tuesday was no different. Plus, it was warm. Really warm. Mid-80s warm. And humid, because that’s what it does here. August is going to suck. Never did like August. Well, okay, I take that back, I do love August nights. Especially later in the month. Nothing like sitting outside listening to the creatures in the trees chirping and singing away, no breeze to disturb them, the earth cooling, the moisture dropping out of the air that has become too cold to hold it. Still warm, still humid, still summer – a sultry night, where the air caresses, rather than clings, the last dying gasp of summer. Heavenly.

Right, event.^

It was steamy, not quite oppressive, although I’m far more sensitive to heat than I used to be, which is incredibly frustrating. I turned on my computer to spend the evening in the AC, shrugging the day off my shoulders, maybe kill some barbarians or something. I’d just gotten home from a mechanic; a tire that’s been going flat for a while finally gave up the ghost. They didn’t have the size I needed, so I had to go back on Wednesday and spend money I really didn’t want to spend on something I desperately needed years ago. So I got on the computer, looking to visit with friends and see what’s gone on in the world. There was an invitation from my brother to attend that evening’s hooping and drumming celebration. My flattening tire had been inflated at the garage, although it was still in need of repair or replacement (wound up with repair – there were three nails in it, apparently), and my front tires, bald as Picard, waiting to be replaced. Didn’t really give those much thought, since I’d been driving on them like that for so long. I was more concerned about the rear one. My last misgiving about leaving the house, driving across town to an event outside faded as I was walking out the door with my camera. I knew where I was going, and I knew who was over there, and who was likely to be there. I knew that if for some reason, I couldn’t drive my car, I wouldn’t be stranded.

So I went.

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Photo my brother took with my camera

It was still pretty light out. This time of year, we don’t have complete darkness until after 9. Headlights are needed by about 8:30, but not really before. I had some time to wait. See, one of the reasons I wanted to go – the main reason, if I’m honest – was because when it’s dark, the lights come out. Not the ones on the pavilion, the ones on the hoops. It was an opportunity, I thought, to practice long-exposure photography without a tripod (because I didn’t think to grab it). I was going for the visual stimulation, not the community or sense of peace and rightness that the others wanted. Thing is, when you find yourself in a community, a welcoming group with the goal of acceptance and even love, it kinda rubs off a little. I did shoot a bit, I even joined the drummers for a moment or two, while my brother borrowed my camera.

The crowd was surprisingly diverse. That may mean that people are starting to loosen up expectations. It probably also means I have some preconceptions to work on.

Finally, it started to get dark. I’ve taken longer exposure photos without a tripod or any other resting place for my camera. Sometimes it’s necessary; can’t use a flash everywhere. Plant your feet, tuck your arms at your sides, take a breath, hold it, aim, shoot, breathe. The heavier the camera, or longer the focus, the trickier it gets. Generally, anything longer than a quarter of a second is probably as slow as you want the shutter to go. Make up the difference with the ISO (equivalent to film speed), and if at all possible, aperture size (smaller number, bigger aperture). I think my patience paid off.

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Still early, but dark enough for the lights to come on.

 

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This is why long exposure.
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This young lady was fun to watch. I’m sure I have a couple dozen photos of just her, with and without the lights.

All in all, even though it made the next day difficult – remember to drink water when it’s humid and hot – it was worth my effort, worth my time. I’ll be going back to other events throughout the summer. The photo ops are great; I really liked the environment.
_________________________

*I used to write a lot of poetry. Not much of it rhymed. It wasn’t bad. Probably couldn’t make a living with it. Anyway, it seemed wrong to not conclude with a somewhat poetic final statement.

^Thinking about that blog renaming thing again.

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