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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Christine and Globe

Every year I anticipate the arrival of Christmas around Thanksgiving time. Each year I tell myself that this will be the year that I will be organized so I have time to send out holiday cards, get the tree up a couple weeks before Christmas, and bake goodies for all the people I am grateful for in our lives. I tell myself that this will be the year that I will start early so I don’t end up being so stressed the week of Christmas. Each year, I set myself up for disappointment because I am never able to meet all my goals. This year was no exception. In fact this year was the worst. Both my husband and I had work related deadlines, a party to plan, gifts to buy and wrap, gifts to deliver to friends in need, food to prepare, and end of year meetings to attend. I suppose our responsibilities aren’t any heftier than anyone else’s but that is no comfort. Somehow, the holiday season works me up into a frenzy. On Sunday, I paused long enough to create this image of my daughter holding a Christmas globe before I snatched it up to wrap for a gift exchange. Next year I am going to be organized, plan ahead, and travel to Mexico for the holidays.

I hope this post finds you in good spirits and that you have had time to savor the magic of the holidays. If not, maybe I’ll see you in Mexico next December.

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Cowboy Mitch

I met Cowboy Mitch in downtown Atlanta. He was standing at the curb on Peachtree Street basking in the warmth of the sun during his lunch hour. After some time together, I departed with the promise to email his portrait to him. Little did I know that through our correspondence, his initial tale about his love for the Old West would evolve into a beautiful story about a son’s love for his mother and the magic of childhood.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. My mom was a single mom who raised five kids. She worked part time, but was always home before school was out. Entertainment in our home came from watching TV, listening to the radio, and singing behind artists on 45 disc records. We didn’t put a label on music. We didn’t care what race or creed you were. If you could sing, we played you on our record player until the record turned white or scratched and skipped. We just loved all music, even classical. If you walked past our apartment you would have thought it was a white family living in an all black neighborhood until you saw us. I say this because of the variety of music we listened to including white artists whom we felt could sing just as soulful as some blacks, and better.

I have such fond memories of Christmases past and how my mother did everything she could to make them bright and special. Because it’s almost Christmas, I remember that my mom would have already bought all my gifts and stashed them in big brown paper bags in the closet and we had better not touch them or get skinned alive. This was a time when you swore your mom was crazy or lost her mind; either way you didn’t want to chance losing these wonderful toys. My mother would also threaten not to buy many cowboys or Indians for Christmas if I got poor grades in school. I think she tricked me because it worked.

My favorite childhood friends were two toy horses, Thunderbolt and Flame, the cowgirl figurine, Jane West, and the cowboy, Johnny. I got Thunderbolt for Christmas when I was six years old. By 1965, GI Joe had taken over the toy world for young boys and I went from cowboys and Indians to little green army soldiers. I didn’t know that after all those years of playing with army soldiers I would become a paratrooper. I joined the army at 18 and jumped out of combat planes for 10 years. Still, my first passion for the Old West remained. The cowboys were my heroes, the good and bad ones dressed in black. The dudes just looked so sharp in those super cool hats, vests and, boots. I embrace that look and style. I watch Westerns every Saturday morning. It takes me to a place, another time; a simple time.

It has been six years since my mom passed at 94 years old. There is not a day that goes by I don’t think of her. The holidays are the worst. Its painful at times but what keeps me going is that she visits me in my dreams. She’s always warm and smiling. On her last visit I got to hug her and feel her warm body, and then she left the room. I don’t think I am supposed to follow her, yet I believe in my heart if I ever followed her I would not come back on this side. At least I know I will have the best friend in the whole world waiting for me when my time comes.

The horses are dear to me as they are the only things I have left of my mother that she actually purchased with her own hard earned money and with love. Thunderbolt, the tan one, has his own story. Many years past my youth, my mother told me that a picture slid off the wall and chopped off his tail. A clean cut! She put the tail somewhere but forgot where she had placed it. She passed and I never found his tail. Being that he is such a treasure and well over 50 years old, I refused to throw him away. So, when I look at my horses, I still can hear my mom saying, “Well you had better do good in school!”

  • Cowboy Mitch
Mitches horse-1

Thunderbolt and Flame,  Photo by Cowboy Mitch

Fountain Cleaner

This is an image I thought I had not captured. I was walking in Midtown and noticed this gentleman cleaning a water fountain outside an imposing commercial building. He was shrouded in this amazing light with the vacuum’s long blue hose slithering along the water’s surface. Because I did not want to disturb him, I smiled and nodded as he briefly looked up to meet my gaze. He then proceeded with his task. That was the signal I was hoping for; the unspoken permission to photograph. I moved quickly and shot from various angles. After a couple of minutes I was in a rhythm and honing in on my vision for the image. Then I heard footsteps approaching and a voice asking me why I was photographing. This was the last shot I took before I lowered my camera and explained that I was shooting for myself. I was informed that photographing on the premises was prohibited without written permission. I thought surely I could continue. How could a middle-aged woman, photographing a water fountain look threatening? There was no negotiating. This experience reinforced the climate of fear and distrust that is being created in our country.

 

Eduardo

Bleachers were erected along Peachtree Street for spectators at the Children’s Christmas Parade. As soon as the parade passed through, an army of workers descended to sweep the streets, blow the confetti and trash off the sidewalks, and dismantle the bleachers. They were under pressure to clean up as quickly as possible so traffic through Midtown could be restored. Eduardo caught my eye because he was zooming up and down the bleachers with the agility of a hummingbird, power tool in hand, unscrewing bolts. As I started to photograph, a gentleman, who turned out to be the supervisor, approached me with a suspicious look. After I explained why I had stopped to photograph Eduardo he told me that Eduardo was his hardest worker.

Maine Coon Cat

This weekend’s Children’s Christmas Parade, the largest holiday parade in the southeast, marked the official beginning of the holiday season in Atlanta. Aside from the giant helium-filled balloons, floats, marching bands and clowns, there were an array of animals participating. The most impressive was this 18 pound, Maine Coon cat draped around his owner’s shoulders.

Christmas tree lighting

Last night, the City of Decatur held one of their holiday rituals on the Square, the lighting of the Christmas tree. Perched on top of The Little Shop of Stories, a Christmas tree stood regally above the eager crowd. Santa led a count down and I managed to snap this picture just as the tree came to life.

Knitting on MARTA

I was returning home on the train when a woman boarded with her motorized scooter and sat down in front of me. As soon as she settled into her seat she whipped out her yarn and started to crochet. What caught my attention was that within seconds she was intensely focused and engrossed in her craft. Although I had some trepidation about disturbing her, my curiosity won over. Luckily, when I spoke to her I was greeted with a big smile. When I complemented her on the bag she was crocheting she proudly showed me the other items she had finished. She shared with me that she had learned to crochet during her stay in prison and that she was extremely grateful for her new life, finally free of drugs. Until recently, she had been homeless but was now living in her own apartment. She was on her way to Clarkston to a location where she has been lucky to find discarded lottery tickets that were winning tickets. She was hopeful that she would be lucky again on this day so she would be able to purchase more yarn. My stop approached much too quickly and as I hurried off the train I realized I had not asked her name. Nevertheless, I felt as if I had been the lucky one this day.