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№ 75 Posts

Ko kwal al woot, maiden of Deception Pass

Ko kwal al woot, Rosario Beach
October 2009

I went east for the first time in a while, back over to the mainland- Bellingham specifically. I’ve been struggling with some sort of virus, so it was maybe unwise to stand in the wind and icy rain taking this shot, but I’d had a restless day of ferries and long slow  caravans of traffic, the gathering weather turning the drive over Deception Pass into a sort of funeral cortege.

Rosario Beach is a short and welcome detour off 20, even though in the chute of Rosario Strait the wind was extreme. I found a meager lee in shadow of Bowman Hill and Deception Island and opened the lens and just let the wind and light mix it up. I like movement and blur in trees, and the low-fi anxiety  of flying debris, and here I especially like that there is deception in the still statue, the only defined thing in the frame, as if legend can ever truly hold the day. And it doesn’t hurt that even the fish looks upside down.

Until green again

Alders, Lake Crescent
April 2009

With a little room to work the alders do nice things- around lake fronts especially. The boughs have these sort of aching leaning gestures that hold the wind so well. And the tracings of the limbs are brought a little lower each spring by the winter’s snowfall and rain, finally exploding in a million emerald medallions as the leaves open up and tantalize the rising lake. All is lit from within, and it’s a thorough and grand contagion.
My black and white version is a little lacking.  I guess it holds my memory of it well enough;  it’s transitional enough anyway, as the local slides into another monochrome winter. Whether that memory is accurate is beside the point. Even if my impressions are proved wrong, at least I get to be surprised all over again next spring.

The running of the dumpsters

Dumpster race, K-Ply Mill
October 2009

The pace of deconstruction can be so glacial it’s difficult to notice. This mill closed a while back and driving by it every day pulls up no immediate sense of despair, but you can still feel it in the jaw, like an involuntary reflex. I admit I saw this scene as a humorous industrial version of the running of the bulls, but then I also I admit I saw this scene for it’s implacability- however slow,  the waste always show up for its prize. What it lacks in speed it more than makes up for in duration.

Waiting the new west out

The Aircrest and the Chinook,Port Angeles
October 2009

A few Sundays ago I had an urge to photograph motel signs, and all the plain attendant references about. Unfortunately, there are only two interesting motel signs, and the references never seem to change.

Yes, working on that, thanks.

Find the popes in the pizza*

Beach 4, August 2009

Since I quit watching TV I’m prone to some offthewall free associations as the withdrawals compete with general nostalgia for my off-hour attentions. The late seventies, in particular, when I was first and at long last finally able to stay up as late as I wanted. The main point of staying up late as I saw it at the time was, of course, TV. Late night horror, adult humor, etc- all the great forbidden stuff. Nothing breeds interest like restriction. There seemed to be so much promise bound up in this new freedom and those that would follow- made the richer and more alluring and exotic due to the fact that I didn’t understand most of what I saw.

In any case, it’s always startling how much reflexive associations can color a moment- in this instance the thought of Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci on Saturday Night Live even as I was composing the shot. It seemed such a preemptive satire of the shot I was about to take that I almost didn’t bother. Was I heckling myself, or was it just a ricochet of a long-overdue punchline?

I still don’t understand most of what I see and respond to but in the end I’m usually glad I took the shot. I suppose I rely on this to a degree to protect my  interests or even mask any lack of coherent intent, but oh well: ‘Some are easy to find, some are hard. … Here’s a little clue for you. Most of the Popes have red faces…’*

It’s amazing to me all the interest in the Pope last couple weeks. I think it’s because of John Paul’s visit, personally, but, you know, whatever the reason, people are buyin’ these posters that show all of the Popes and people want to know what their names are, what their real names are, when they was livin’, when they died, all that stuff. And, going along with this Papal mania, I’ve kind of designed a contest about the Popes. It’s called “Find the Popes in the Pizza” … All two hundred and fifty-four Popes, they’re in here. … And, what we’re gonna do in about one minute, we’re gonna put a close-up of this on your screen and, you at home, all you have to do is get some, like, wax paper, any kind of paper you can see through and paste it to your screen — or tape it, whatever you want — and all you gotta do is get a pencil and draw a circle around every place you see a picture of a Pope.

Well, I think what I’m gonna do for the prize, whoever wins — you know, finds the most Popes — they’ll get to have a button that I designed myself. I noticed on the tour, the best selling button was this.It says, “I Got a Peek at the Pope” … And I designed a button that I think even more people can relate to. It says, “I saw the Pope on TV” … This is what you win. And now, I think, we’re about ready. So while you’re looking at the pizza for thirty seconds, I’m gonna play a cut from Pius XII’s album. … Here is Pius XII singing “On the Sunny Side of the Street” … And now find the Pope in the pizza. Good luck to you. All two hundred and fifty-four.

-Don Novello, SNL 10/13/79 *

In the belly of a tree

Beach 1, August 2009

This forest dazzles so it’s difficult to get around to the task of taking a picture of it. Almost comically grim,  the lean defoliated interior crowds its own shadows, the trees almost tripping over another in one-upmanship, and the path demarks the contortions as events that are gradual and sudden all at once.  Each distinct view naturally insists on its counterpart or sequence, and back again to itself, so you can get stuck in the loop of the path, stuporously touring the infinite detail well into the gloom.

Occupational therapy

Beach 3, August 2009

The crappier my job gets, the more textbook my escapist tendencies. This is a common enough theme in many people’s lives. Still, I never seem to tire of making excuses for taking pretty pictures. I can think of little else under a leaky trailer blowing insulation into it’s belly. Stitched up in a tyvek suit, with a full face respirator that makes your eyes bulge with each breath, you tend to long for the open spaces.

Oddly though I’m growing to like my job- it’s is darkly peaceful in the tight spaces, and you can move tones around in your mind’s eye, because there’s nothing much else to see, and I can think farther into patterns and trace (or even anticipate) a chaotic sky or tide one or two cycles deeper there, and as such the thoughts I get take stronger hold and make a lasting impression, and I know what I want to see when I climb out. This, as aging compounds and indecision and apologia take root, is decent enough maintenance, if not a outright cure.

Are you coming in or going out?

Beach 3, August 2009

I went back to Kalaloch for the first time in many months. Frustrated all summer on so many fronts, it was easier to take a step back to the same thing and just insist on different results- mainly, just to enjoy myself. Similarly, this interesting piece of sandstone is either emerging from the sand or receding by erosion, but really; with enough applied scale, the differences don’t exactly register.

And some nice correspondence with people nearby and far away helped put things in perspective as well- so thanks for that.

Variations on a theme

Bunker, July 2009

I’ve been neglecting Camp Hayden, a old coastal defense installation near the house, an alder-veiled network of subterrainian bunkers atop the worn basalt bluffs over Crescent Bay and Tongue Point. Most mornings are foggy and the Strait is obscured by a thick carpet of fog, so I’m not sure how much practical appliaction the fort had in its day, but it is a fun place to haunt as the sun starts to light up the fog. Much newer than Fort Worden, it nevertheless has eased into obscurity and earthly reclaimation much more vigourously. There is more of a post-people dynamic here, belied by the constant stream of RVs and popup trailers that  frequent the campgrounds below.

Ah, on a clear day you could shell Canada…