Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Check Engine light

While my son napped one day this June, I collected elderflowers for him, for some future fever.

Check engine light on, check engine light off, a failed DMV inspection, a trip to the dealership with a baby, poor sleep, another trip to the dealership, meeting with car salesman, poor sleep. Mold from that rainy August is creeping in every corner, on the nightstand, in the closet. Heater's broken, too. When will this baby sleep well? When will this family sleep well? Still teething? Not eating enough?

Then, the crackle in the throat. Then, the choking while nursing. Still fine during the day, but the nights... Then, upset, crying during the day, fifteen minute naps, raging with tears at night, writhing. Herbal steams, saline drops, mucus suckin' bulb, teas, homeopathic remedies.

He seems a little warm. Overdressed? He seems warm still. Fever goes up to 102 degrees.

A fever of 101 is ok, just the immune system working I repeat, but 102. The immune system is like a muscle, it must be used to be robust, but 102. He's so hot! His cheeks are red, he's miserable. Jared brews elderflower tea. Two teaspoons and 15 minutes, fever's down a degree.

I know Children's Tylenol works, and I'd be surprised and anxious if it didn't, much like a check engine light turning back on. When herbal remedies work, I am pleased. Surprised. Like receiving a handwritten letter in the mail from a friend - deepening relationship across distance.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Jared's digging/shoveling implements
March 20, 2011

Jared digging/shoveling a garden path
January 15, 2010

Rachel hates digging/shoveling. Here she is raking.
December 29, 2008

Jared digging/shoveling
December 29, 2008

Jared breaks from digging/shoveling
December 29, 2008

Jared digging/shoveling at the compost facility
December 30, 2008

Months ago, when our son began teething, I felt cut free from all that was important to me, at least those things unrelated to caring for a teething baby. Exhausted, I would lie in bed sleepless. "This is some time for me, but I really need to sleep," I thought.

I wrote a list entitled "What is Important to Me." Then I wrote another list, "Chores I Am Responsible For." Actually, I just wrote the title and didn't note any chores. I asked my husband to do the same. The former list was meant to remind us what we enjoy doing besides helping our son (and us) get some sleep. The latter list was a trap.

Every couple I know argues about two things: chores (you aren't doing do you know how much I do around here when was the last time you) and (your sh*tty) driving. I will have to address (your sh*tty) driving at some other time. That topic would take a while to discuss.

"What is Important to Me" was a nice list to write, and a pleasant one to share with each other. Sitting on the couch, we quietly read each others lists. We discussed, supporting each line - hiking, baking, photography, traveling... and remarking on how are lists were similar, but actually different.

Since I never wrote "Chores I Am Responsible For", I don't know how it felt for Jared to write his. I hadn't expected my trap, I mean, "Chores I Am Responsible For" list, to make me feel as it did. I read Jared's "Chores I Am Responsible For". My stomach began to tighten, then my chest tightened, tears rolled from the corners of my eyes.

Line 5 read "DIGGING" and line 11 read "SHOVELING". (Jared writes in ALL CAPS).

"'Digging?' 'Shoveling?' aren't those the same things?" I giggled.

"DIGGING and SHOVELING. Oh!" A deep, deep laugh rolled from my stomach upward. Jared began to laugh, too. Of course, we were tired (teething baby) and trying to suppress loud laughter (teething baby was napping), and we muffled our giddy snorts.

Jared's final entry on the "Chores I Am Responsible For" list was "VOICE OF REASON". Like (your sh*tty) driving, that's a topic worth further treatment.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lead by Morons

Kingwood Township - a rural but mercurial place. I'm not sure where the lead factory is. Perhaps along that strip of Route 12 that the township insists must be made uglier each year with cheap warehouses (tax rateables).

Not too long ago, I used a film camera exclusively. I savored making beautiful contact sheets and flipped through them regularly - for inspiration, to become depressed. You know, artist types, so mercurial (passionate, disillusioned, self-important), so icy (artistic block), so watery (tears, collapsing ego). One minute my life's work is an impressive - 569 rolls of film plus dozens not yet processed from the end of my film years - all fitting into four very heavy, overstuffed film binders. Then there's boxes and boxes of prints.

Wait a minute, just 569 rolls. How many is that per year? Maybe not enough, doesn't sound like much, just four binders? What if the house burns down anyway? Photographs in boxes? Not hanging in the white cubes (prestigious art galleries) I learned to deconstruct via post-modern theory at the university? Nope, just mouldering away in a Graco stroller box, a Hilti Tools box, a DockerKhakis box, Kodak and Ilford boxes, BookAZine boxes, etc.

From here the internal conversation goes from morose deprecation to fightin' piss and vinegar to eyebrows furrowed with pride and composure and back down to earth. Mercurial artists.

I now use a computer program to organize my digital photographs. I don't memorize my contact sheets, where in the stack I could find particular images: the first and second trips to Detroit, the punk rock roadtrip to California, the YMCA playground series...

I 'keyword' my images, giving them more or less helpful context that I can readily (as readily as one can on an eight year old computer) call up by searching for keywords like "autumn", "road", "Helenium autumnale", "caterpillar", and "kitchen". It's rather time consuming, and I think I spend less "quality time" with my photographs.

I did, however, spend about 14 seconds of quality time with the above image. What to keyword this one, I wondered. "Kingwood"? "Communist community"? "Idiots"? or how about just "People"? Will I remember this important cultural statement was documented on August 14, 2011? How will I find it? I settled on "sign".