This is not a post I wanted to write, but it is one I must. Last week, I was, in fact, preparing another post, but then death intruded into my life. My blog is supposedly about photography, yet here I am writing about death. Most Americans don’t like to talk or even think about death. Yet death is a part of life. And, like most photographers, most of my photography is about life – places I’ve been, people I’ve met, the sharing of scenes that enrich my life. So, here I am, writing about the one inevitable part of life that we all must face – death.
This post is not one I wanted to write. It has been difficult putting these words on “paper.” It’s difficult to share. I’ve procrastinated, refusing to believe, searching my feelings for truth, for a reason. I’ve procrastinated, because by not putting this down on paper, somehow it cannot be real, because maybe it is just a dream. But it is real, and I cannot procrastinate further. My friend, Gary Mueller, deserves to be celebrated, and hopefully this post can be a small part of a celebration of Gary’s life, a celebration of his lasting impact on this world. A world he made a better place by just being himself. For Gary was one of the happiest people I know. A gentle, caring man, always quick with a smile, a chuckle, and an amusing story. He was a delight to be around. He was a Beatles fanatic, a dedicated Washington State Cougars fan, a fine wine and beer connoisseur. Most of all, he was my friend; a reliable mate to share a beer, help with a chore, or to just hang with. A man so full of life and love.
I met Gary about 40 years ago in high school. And unlike with many of my high school friends, Gary and I kept in touch. Over the past 15 years of so, since Tanya has been in my life, we have gotten together with Gary and his wife Vicki almost monthly. A week ago Thursday, Gary collapsed while getting ready for work. Vicki found him a minute or two later, but he was already gone. Often when the four of us were together, we’d joke about how Gary was the youngest of the four (we are all within about a year of the same age). Yet now, seemingly way before his time, he was the first to go.
If we are lucky in life, we have a few true friends. Friends who will stick with us through anything life throws at us, who aren’t bothered by our warts and eccentricities, who make our lives better to live. Gary was such a friend. He made my life better; he made me better. And this, my feeble attempt at a tribute, does not do him justice. Gary, my dear friend, I miss you…
Once a year, the artists in Tacoma open their studios to the public in the Tacoma Studio Tour. This free event is held annually as part of Tacoma Arts Month, where the city celebrates the arts and its artists. This year, the studio tour includes 57 artists including yours truly. I’d like to personally invite any of my blog readers in the local area to come on by, see my studio, and talk about the art of photography.
The studio tour this Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. I am stop number 3 on the tour.
As part of the tour, many artists are offering hands on activities. I am no exception. I have been playing around with scanography – making photographs using a flat-bed scanner. I will have the scanner set up so my guests can try their own hand at scanography and take home a print of their masterpiece. The image above, one of my favorites photographs I’ve created with my scanner, is an example of what you can create. This is a fun activity, and I will write a separate blog entry on it in the new future.
Hope to see you this weekend!
Do you have a favorite place you like to visit to do photography; a place you go again and again? One of my favorites is downtown Gig Harbor. There are views of Mount Rainier, picturesque boats, parks, and scenic streets. I don’t know how many times I’ve shot there, but since I use to live in on the Gig Harbor peninsula (and still live only a short drive away), I have photographed the Harbor many times.
One of the challenges of shooting the same place multiple times is getting something fresh. Besides the scenery, shooting in Gig Harbor helps me work on thinking outside my normal box. Since I’ve photographed the same scenes multiple times, it forces me to try to find new points of view for the same scenes. It presents good exercise for the most important component of photography – your mind.
Shooting the same location again and again also allows to work on variations on a theme. Again, this is a very good mental exercise for a photographer. While I suggest working a scene, shooting a wide number of variations (as I discussed in this previous post), by returning multiple times, you can add the fourth dimension, time, to your variations.
For these reasons (and because it was a photo outing with the Mountaineers), I did the Gig one evening last week. The photos here are some of the results.
Do you have your own Gig? Where is your favorite place you like to return to again and again, and why do you return?
If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know that Tanya and I are animal lovers. For years we loved our Newfoundland, Carson, and our two cats, Patch and Sugar. In June 2013, we lost Sugar to cancer. Later in that year, Carson passed away as well. Last Saturday, it was Patch’s turn. While Carson and Sugar both died of natural causes, Patch was struck by a car as he was crossing the street to come see me as when I came home from shooting a wedding. As he lay stricken in the street, I petted him, hardly containing my tears, and called Tanya, who had just left the house on an errand. She was able to get back home in a few minutes, and we were glad we could be there comforting Patch in his final moments.
Patch was the best cat I’ve ever known. He was loved by everyone in the neighborhood. My neighbor across the street, Brad, who confesses to not liking cats, told me yesterday that even he loved Patch. Patch was about as friendly as a cat can get. He loved being around people, any people. We often heard stories about how he freely wander into other people’s houses. Before we moved to Tacoma, we had a neighbor who left his door open and a bowl of cat food in his dining room just because he like to have Patch come in to visit (he later stopped this after opossums came in for the food). We often thought we would lose Patch someday because he would visit someone we didn’t know and they might adopt him (he didn’t wear a collar – it was impossible to keep one on him for more than about 2 hours). Besides investigation other people’s houses, he would also jump into cars if someone left a door open. One of Tanya’s favorite Patch stories describes how she once answered the door for a repairman and as they were talking, she saw Patch checking out the cab of the repairman’s truck from the inside.
Patch was totally at ease with dogs, probably from growing up with Carson (they were best buddies, often sleeping together). But Patch was not against taunting dogs for his own amusement. He liked to prance back and forth on a neighbor’s lower roof, just outside their living room windows, and drive their inside dog crazy. Though he didn’t seem to care one way or the other about Nahla, our new Newfoundland, he did act as if to approve having a dog in the house again when we brought her home last year.
Patch had the loudest purr of any cat I’ve known. In fact he was a purr machine – just about anything would set off his purrs. He’d walk into a room, see me or Tanya and start purring immediately. A small treat, a quick pet, even a look from across a room, all set him purring.
He was also a toucher. If I was to sit down next to him, he’d usually stretch out a paw to touch my arm or leg. He’d often go lay down by Carson and reach over and place a paw on Carson’s leg or foot. When I read a book in bed, he’d lay on my chest, but always reach a paw up to touch me on the upper chest or neck where the bedclothes didn’t cover.
After Sugar and Carson died, Tanya and I brought home Nahla and a new kitten, Tuck. Replacement pets if you will, though they really aren’t. Now with Patch gone, we may get another new cat (it is clear that Tuck misses Patch as well). But there will certainly be no replacing Patch.
The car that hit Patch didn’t even slow down. I feel sorry for such callous, uncaring people. They had to have known they hit something. But I’m not bitter. Patch was 16 ears old and had a great life. He was my good friend, and I miss him dearly.
Goodbye Patch; I hope you have fun with Carson wherever dogs and cats go in the afterlife, and be nice to your sister too.
I haven’t been able to post as much this month as I had wanted. And now Christmas is upon us before I was ready. How come when you are a kid, it takes forever for Christmas to arrive and now that I’m middle-aged (leaning toward advanced-aged) Christmas comes so fast?
I don’t have much to offer you but a photograph. The above photo was taken in Gig Harbor 5 or so years ago. Normally we do not have much snow here during the holidays, and this year is no exception. It is relatively warm out right now and rainy, of course. But when we do have snow, it is so beautiful.
Happy holidays to all the readers of my blog, both casual and dedicated. I wish you all the best this holiday season. Be sure to remember to take some time for yourself and do something fun. (Hopefully, I can follow my own advice!)