Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Glance at the Life: Good Friends and the Winter Project 2008

It does not go unnoticed by me that I owe any and all ability to post a picture to this blog to my friends. More particularly, to two friends: Carolyn and Genevieve.

Carolyn (unpictured....for now) was my college roommate. Currently, she is my generous and witty and quick and just entirely-too-much-fun-to-be-around buddy in Anchorage. She is also the reason that I live in Alaska instead of 2 blocks from the Union Square Greenmarket. It was, you see, her wedding in Girdwood that brought me to Alaska for the first time. And when I couldn't stay away, and less than a month later I was back for more, it was the trip to her family’s cabin at Whiskey Lake that confirmed I would move mountains to be able to live here myself. About two years ago, Carolyn gave me my very first digital camera. (A year before that, she also set me up with pillows and a futon and even – I swear - a car, and gave me my first and only DVD player, but these are topics – and gushes of appreciation – for another time. Suffice it to say, Carolyn made moving to Alaska much, much easier and fun than it could have been. Carolyn, my friends, is simply talented in fun.)

It was generous. And I was so excited to finally be able to send pictures to the people that I've been earnestly attempting to persuade into visiting. But, I’ll admit it, the camera scared me. It took me a long while to learn how to turn it on. It took, in fact, importing my little brother up to Bush Alaska to set it all up for me. He installed a memory card (gifted also by Carolyn) into the camera, and installed software into the laptop. With the smugness that only one’s little brother can demonstrate towards a technologically inept big sister, he even tried to tutor me towards using it. Luckily, I finally learned. I even learned how to take a picture with it, and to upload the picture, and to email the picture, and – obviously – how to post a picture here. But, I never quite mastered it. And, oh, it was bad at one of those several times where I found myself lamenting (for weeks) that I had broken it only to be slammed by an epiphany that perhaps I simply need to put in new batteries. And it has “modes” and “menus” - and these cause me such consternation that I never even really try to understand them. I never even sampled them. I turned it on, and shot, and it took pictures, and I could upload them. And life was good, and easy and – from time to time when I remembered to update the batteries - recorded.

Slowly, with time, came comfort. Confidence with digital photography. And gumption. So much gumption, in fact, that a few months ago I whirled and whimmed myself into buying a new, complicated, and big camera. A Nikon D-80.

It arrived. I was so excited! I started to take it out of the box. But it had so many pieces. So many manuals. So many different languages and plugs and contraptions and stuff like that…..oh, I get breathless with angst all over again just thinking about it. It required, my friends, assembly. It was all too much. Assembly! Ugh. I promptly put everything right back in the box, and carried the box right up to the spare room, and set it right up in the middle of a pile of stuff, and decided that it would be best to ease into it. Months passed. Occasionally I’d go up and look at the box and contemplate trying again. But then I’d remember all the pieces and all the programming and all that other stuff, and I’d just turn around and leave.

Fast forward a few months, and this email popped into my inbox:

any plans for next thursday and friday? i'm thinking of dropping in for a

"G" is my friend Genevieve. She is a witty, adventurous, berry-picking, baking, renaissance-worthy island-dweller out in Unalaska. Genevieve, in fact, is diversely talented. Leonardo da Vinci would have definitely invited her to his table. Think it would be fun to learn how to play an Irish tin whistle? She already knows how to! Think it would be fun to pick up 12 ungutted silver salmons! She’ll come over with 5 minutes notice, and set up a cleaning station, and bring a Food Saver, and patiently – oh! so patiently! try to show you how to fillet them. She won’t laugh at your attempts. Think it would be fun to buy 5 gallons of already fermenting cloudberries? But then realize you have absolutely no idea what to do with all those berries? The answer – call Genevieve. Similar tales could be told about sleuthing town for the one remaining cucumber, and cutting down sugar in jams, and finding berry patches, and crawling over, and under, and around pipes to take short-cuts to the Cultural Center. Genevieve, my friends, is the guide you want on your tundra island. It was a very sad day when she left it.

So imagine my glee, my joy, my celebratory cartwheels when I got an email saying that Genevieve was coming to town! Now, my friends, let’s be honest here. I don’t live in a place where one can just “drop in.” And Genevieve, in Unalaska, doesn’t live in a place that permits her to just drop by. She lives in the middle of the Aleutian Chain. She lives on an island – a real one - in the middle of the Aleutian Chain. But in addition to all the talents described above, Genevieve is also an Alaskan Airlines guru. A traveling wonder. A multi-mile millionaire, I suspect. Most definitely a deal spotter. One of those real kinds of deal spotters. One of those kinds of traveling wonder deal spotters that cut their teeth traveling around the Caucasions and Central America.

With such a plethora of talents, is it a surprise to anyone that, while in town, Genevieve put together my new camera? She came to town for 48 hours last week and assembled my camera for me. She even read the manual for me. (Yes, there does seem to be a pattern of me putting guests to work. I shall introspect on that at another time, though.) She could have gone to the A.C. to see who was buying $15 gallons of orange juice. She could have gone to Swanson’s to see if they ever got another shipment of ramekins. She could have walked along the river and looked for glimpses of Tom’s John Deere Green boat. But she is kind, and generous – and she spent her time gifting me with an assembled camera and distilled suggestions for operating it. I'm indebted.

In sum, it is a direct result of Carolyn and Genevieve, and their generosities and patience with me and my technological waywardness, that I have started taking pictures with a Nikon D-80. Sure, it has menus and modes enough to send me crawling under the covers. But I think I found a solution. I 'm making digital photography my Winter Project 2008. Let the cold come. Let the dark return and the whipping winds of below zero flay. I shall be safe, and warm and utterly enraptured with my Winter Project, photography. Now I don’t promise anything fancy here. I don’t even promise anything interesting. And we all know I’d be courting something stinky if I promised anything talented. But I do promise Pamela that there will be a lot more pictures of the dogs.

Here are a few pictures from the start of this project:

Here is Paxson grinning at his proximity to Puck's tail.

Here is Puck realizing Paxon's proximity to his tail.

Here is Puck attempting to hide his tail. It didn't work.

But before you feel sorry for Puck........

Here is Puck moping after Genevieve and Paxson left - and it wasn't just because
there were no longer stray cheerios to nibble on.

And here is Clyde.......ahhh, Clyde! So handsome!

With the first camera,
here is a glimpse of Paxon's state of awe when he first saw Clyde.

And here are some snapshots of Paxson (clearly the son of his parents) going from awe to adventure -

it's amazing how quick of a crawler he is!

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