A Few Thoughts on Ferguson

You know, I can wrap my head around the idea of the first night being such a mess. I can wrap my head around the chaos and escalation and all parties being unprepared and overreacting and things getting out of control.

What I cannot comprehend is days and days later nothing is resolved and the one night of calm lasted exactly one night. I thought their grand plan to have the highway patrol take over was supposed to replace the insane local police outfitted in military gear?

All it’s going to take for there to be all out insanity in Ferguson is for one of the cops or National Guard personnel to justifiably or unjustifiably shoot one of the protestors.

At some point in the (I suppose) very near future law enforcement and the powers that be are going to grow tired of dealing with protests/riots and there will be mass arrests, which won’t end well for anyone.

So I’m left wondering, where are the grown-ups in all of this? Where are the supposed local and national leaders? Where are the designated cooler heads?

Rose & Picnic Table (imitating the masters)

Red Rose on Picnic Table

So I know it’s been a long time since I blogged but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t creative during that time. During the spring semester I took an intermediate digital photography class, during which I learned much about my camera and photography in general.

In one of our later assignments we were tasked with recreating a famous photographer’s photo. This assignment was exceptionally challenging for me. I was torn. What photo do I choose? Which photographer? Do I want to recreate it perfectly? Do I want to take a less serious approach?

In the end I chose Ansel Adams’ Rose and Driftwood photo http://www.anseladams.org/rose-amp-driftwood–aa23.html. I decided to try to recreate it as closely as possible. I didn’t have any driftwood and didn’t really know where to find any so I used a picnic table at a local park. I used my 60mm macro lens and stood on the picnic table bench so I was above the roses when I took the pictures. I also took photos sitting directly in front of the roses.

White Rose in Black & White on Picnic Table

In my opinion Ansel Adams’ photo was as much about color and light and shadow as it was texture. To me the rose’s petals look almost like they are made of wood. So I wanted to recreate the texture as well as the lighting in the original image.

I went to the florist with a copy of Ansel Adams’ Rose and Driftwood and asked for the rose that looked as close to the original image’s rose as possible. I bought one red and one white rose and took photos of both. At the time and for this assignment I really didn’t like the red rose photos in either black and white or color.  Now the color red rose image is actually my favorite of the bunch.

In the end I turned in a mix of black and white and color photos of the white rose. At the end of the photo shoot I sprayed the rose with water for an added layer of texture and I wound up liking these shots the most out of the 291 photos I shot that afternoon.

White Rose in Color on Picnic Table

Blog Tour Challenge (My Writing Process)

Hi, remember me? Yeah, I know it’s been four months since I last touched this blog and five months since I actually wrote anything. Hopefully this post will help blow the dust off this place, it felt really good to sit down and write this afternoon.

Brandie from A Journey of 1000 Stitches begins with just one stitch noticed this Soapboxville has been rather quiet as of late and challenged me to write about my writing process as part of the Blog Tour. Before I get to the Q & A portion of the Blog Tour and tell you about my writing process let me tell you a little about Brandie. 1. She’s amazing in so many ways. 2. She’s kind. I mean really and truly genuinely kind. 3. She’s smart. 4. She knits. 5. She sews. 6. She walks, and not only does she walk she walks for charity. She walked the Avon 2-day for breast cancer 3 years in a row. That’s badass all the way around, especially because she did so while recovering from breast cancer. 7. And last but definitely not least, she’s a great mom. I’m always amazed by all the great things she does with her kids.

I met Brandie on Twitter back when I was newly diagnosed with skin cancer. Mine was a complicated case (because why not?). It wasn’t the, “Oh you have basal cell? Isn’t that the good kind?” type so I didn’t really fit into any established skin cancer support groups. Blessedly the women of the Breast Cancer Social Media (#bcsm) allowed me to join in their Twitter chats and that’s where I met my kind, compassionate, inclusive, sweet friend.

Okay, so now on to the Q & A portion, where I tell you all about my writing process.

What are you working on right now?

My Model, Charlie Brown

I wish I could tell you that I am working on some big writing project. I wish I could tell you that I am doing any writing at all. Sadly, I’m not.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been flexing my creative muscles. This summer my focus is on learning to take better portraits. As an extension of this I am hoping to in the fall schedule a few days of free portraits for anyone who wants them at local parks or on the beach.  I don’t know if I’ll have any takers and I certainly can’t promise professional quality photos (I don’t have the equipment) but I’m hoping for at least a few takers.

Right now I’m reading photography books and websites, watching free videos through Creative Live, and practicing on a small scale with Charlie Brown as part of my One Object Challenge for the year.

Hmmm…. Writing about all of this would probably make for good blog content. I’ll have to get on that.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

First, I don’t think I have a genre. If there were an Island of Misfit Blogs that is where Soapboxville would live alongside the Misfit Toys.

Second, I’ve been paid two incredible compliments in the course of my life: 1. No one raises a righteous anger quite like me. And 2. I write in a raw and honest fashion. That’s me, I tell the truth. I’m sure there are those who believe these are character flaws rather than compliments but I disagree.

I suppose what separates Soapboxville from other blogs is the fact that you are just as likely to read about what I watched on TV last night, as you are politics. I’m liberal and opinionated, read at your own risk.

Why do I write what I do?

This is a great question, to which I have multiple answers. The simple one-size-fits-all answer would simply be I want my voice to be part of the discourse. I want to be part of the great discussion.

In more specific terms…

I can only write what is in my heart. I can only write about the things about which I’m most passionate.

When I write about politics I want to add my voice to the discussion. I want to be part of the great debate. I don’t particularly care if you think I’m right, in fact I think I have much to learn from those who think differently than I.

When I wrote about my cancer I wrote for two reasons.

First, it gave me something to be accountable to every day. It was something I had to accomplish each and every day. The 2011 blog feature, 365 Days of Carol Anne is one of my proudest accomplishments solely because I finished. I wrote my way through it all. 365 Days of Carol Anne also provided a way for me to explain to myself what was going on and what transpired each day. There was a lot to take in so it was good to have a place to reread when I needed clarity.

Second, as a new cancer patient there’s so much you just don’t know and there’s so much your medical professionals aren’t going to tell you. The blogs of other cancer patients and other cancer survivors left breadcrumb trails for me to follow. I made it out of the forest because others led the way. I hope that by honestly writing my way through my cancer journey I too can leave a breadcrumb trail for those who unfortunately come after me.

How does my writing process work?

Let’s get this out in the open right away. I am the most undisciplined writer/blogger you’ll ever meet. I don’t plan; I don’t have an editorial calendar; I don’t make outlines or write rough drafts of posts. I am however that writer/blogger who breaks the-don’t-revise-as-you-write rule. I absolutely cannot allow bad grammar or spelling or bad sentence structure to linger on the page. I’m well aware this is not exactly conducive to being an efficient or prolific writer/blogger. I’m also well aware that I often get in my own way.

I handwrite everything. I cannot compose at the keyboard. I cannot think sitting in front of a computer screen. The glow of my laptop screen does not inspire me, unless I’m writing about something I just read in an online news report and I’m all fired up at that exact moment.

I am an all or none writer/blogger. I’m passionately opinionated, hot or cold, black or white. I have to be inspired to sit down and write. I have to be fired up about the topic. I’m more focused when I’m fired up.

I believe that for writing to be honest and real it has to be written in the moment right then and there.

So there you have it, the whys and wherefores of my writing and writing process. Thank you Brandie for challenging me to sit down and write, it’s been too many months and it felt great to stretch my writing muscles.

I’m not going to challenge anyone because I really don’t know any other bloggers. I will, however, go challenge my brother Tommy Gunzz over on Facebook. I think I need to remedy this in the coming months because conversing and corresponding with other writers/bloggers is a good way to boost your creativity.

Crying Uncle

I know people mean well and so they say that scars add character or scars fade (some don’t) or it’s better to be scarred than have cancer. I know they all mean well and that no one knows the exact right thing to say but no one but me has to look in the mirror. This is my 7th surgery over the past 4 years and from those 7 surgeries I’ve lost my hair, the ability to wear a wig, the full use of my left shoulder, and have now gained a big noticeable scar right there in the middle of my face. I’ve lost so much and so much damage has been done to me, it’s overwhelming.

I’m so grateful to God to be cancer-free and the rational me knows appearances shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but yesterday, which I thought would be nothing, was my undoing. I accepted waking up with no hair, I accepted in order to help my head heal I’d have to lose some use of my arm, I accept the radiation treatments that saved my life also damaged my skin and I will probably never be fully healed, I accepted that my nose would have a scar from the first Mohs surgery. How much more am I supposed to just accept and be okay with?

Why is this happening to me? To whoever I’ve wronged or for whatever I’ve done to fuck up my karma so bad, I’m sorry. I’m crying uncle. For whatever it is that I have done, you’ve successfully punished me. I am broken. Please stop.

One Perfect Frozen Bubble

Well, it was 27* when I went out at 7:30am on Thursday morning to see if you really need the uber bitter cold temps to make bubbles freeze or if below freezing temps are all that are required. I blew some directly on the tree, some popped, some stuck and froze. I blew a few more up to the sky and down toward my leaf-covered grass, again a few popped a few stuck and froze. This is one bubble that landed on the leaf-covered grass and froze. One perfect bubble for one last day. It’s supposed to warm up and rain for the weekend so this first frozen bubble experiment concludes here.

Frozen Bubbles!

*points above* Do you see that? That’s frozen bubbles on a pine tree. I am one happy woman. I finally managed to get bubbles to freeze. I love bubbles and ever since I read about this phenomenon a few years ago I’ve been dying to try. Unfortunately, the last two winters here have been less winter and more autumn redux with a splash of spring thrown in for good measure.

This week the temps here fell into the single digits with the wind chill making it minus something in the tens and teens so I finally had the perfect opportunity for a serious attempt at freezing bubbles. This fall and winter have been quite cold so I had already tried with no success a time or two before with dollar store bubbles when the temps were in the teens and twenties in December.

I’m almost certain my neighbors think I’m nuts standing outside at 7am blowing bubbles in the bitter cold but this quest became an obsession and I just had to make it work.

I used the recipe listed in the blog post on Apartment Therapy that inspired me to try to freeze bubbles once again. So on Monday night I ran out to Walmart to buy corn syrup and generic dish detergent before the temps fell into the single digits on Tuesday.

I went out Tuesday afternoon when the temps were at their most bitter cold and windy. I stood in the bitter cold blowing bubbles carried off by the wind, not one froze. Once again I was disappointed. I woke up Wednesday morning inspired and ready to try again before the temps warmed up to the twenties and much to my very happy surprise it worked. The bubbles froze!

I ran in, grabbed my camera and macro lens and ran back out to take a few photos. In thinking about this morning’s success I think two important factors are the reason the bubbles finally froze this morning.

  1. It wasn’t windy. The winds were calm, which allowed the bubbles to waft rather than be caught by the wind and blow away. The bubbles had a few seconds more to waft through the bitter cold morning air then land.
  2. I stepped off the front step and moved onto the grass. The bubbles will not and cannot remain intact when they land on cement. To remain intact when they land the bubbles have to land on a soft surface like snow, or grass, or leaves, or in my case a pine tree.

The link says that you need the bitter cold temps of the single digits and low tens for this to be a success, but I am going to try again tomorrow morning when the temps are in the twenties just to see if you actually need the really bitter temps or if anything below freezing will work. I’ll let you know how I make out.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne

To see all of the photos from this morning visit my Flickr page.

The Year of Charlie Brown — Will You Be My Valentine?

Will you be my Valentine?

I didn’t bring my camera with me to Walmart today, but I did bring Charlie Brown and my iPhone. No photography techniques were practiced today, just getting used to taking CB with me everywhere and not feeling uncomfortable taking photos in unusual places. I struggle with this. Do any of you feel uncomfortable or have a hard time taking photos in restaurants or supermarkets or other unusual places to be taking photos? Do any of you have any advice on how to overcome this?

Overcoming my feeling of embarrassment at taking photos everywhere I go will definitely be part of my One Object Challenge this year.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne

The Year of Charlie Brown — Day 2

Charlie Brown Playing in the Snow

7 inches of snow fell in South Jersey between early evening Thursday, January 2 and the morning of Friday, January 3. Temps were in the teens when we went out to dig the car out and clear the walkway.

I wanted to work on taking photos with backlight and catchlights but as I mentioned earlier it was in the teens when I was out taking photos and I’m a complete wuss when it comes to being cold, CB doesn’t exactly have eyes that reflect sunlight, and the sun was just finally appearing from behind the clouds as the storm was passing and the skies were finally clearing when I was out taking photos this morning. The snow isn’t going anywhere any time soon, or at least until Sunday, so I’m hoping to try for a few more snowy CB photos before the rain and ice come on Sunday.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne

Charlie Brown Playing in the Snow

The Year of Charlie Brown — Day 1

Charlie Brown on the kitchen counter right before midnight, January 1, 2014.

I think I am going to take Soapboxville in a more whimsical direction in 2014. On December 12, 2013 I found out that I am 2 years with no evidence of the cancer returning so I think it’s time to focus on fun and frivolity for a while. Oh, I will still tell my truths and chronicle my journey, but I think for at least this new year I will focus on the things that make me happy, the things that interest me, and the things that make me laugh.

On New Year’s Eve The Phoblographer posted a blog titled 5 Photography Challenges for the New Year and I was inspired. All five challenges are great and I’d love to take on the film challenge but that would require a new camera, buying film on a regular basis, and also having to pay to have that film developed on a regular basis, and that is just not in this year’s budget.

I chose the One Object Challenge, for one year I will have fun taking photos of Charlie Brown on a regular basis in a variety of settings to improve my creativity. At first I thought I’d go to Toys R Us today and buy a little monster or a little robot to photograph, but as luck would have it I didn’t make it there today and so I thought that I’d have to start this project over the weekend but I hit on a little inspiration while cleaning up the kitchen and pantry tonight. I had my Peanuts Nativity Set on my kitchen counter and as I was picking it up to put it away for another year Charlie Brown looked at me and said, “Pick me, pick me,” and so I did. I must I must confess I was torn between Charlie Brown and Linus, as I too had a blankie, but Charlie Brown eventually won out.

*** Linus may get his own photo shoots at some point during the year ***

So welcome to The Year of Charlie Brown, follow our adventures as Charlie Brown and my camera accompany me everywhere I go for 365 days.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne