Defining Moments – Giving Up The Gold

Defining Moments

Having found a box and bought packing supplies, I found it slightly ironic that when I began to pack up most of my photography equipment to send off to sell, ‘Defining Moments,’ were the words that came to mind.

Perhaps it was a subtle whisper from the ghost of Alfred Eisenstadet.

While not a picture perfect moment, it was a defining one for me. I’ve been holding on to an idea of who I am that no longer fits me. I wrote about this in detail a few weeks ago when I gave you a look at some of the images from weddings I’ve photographed in the past.

Wedding photography as a career no longer suits my lifestyle. That doesn’t mean leaving it behind is painless and it’s about more than the just the idea of losing money on expensive equipment.

I love the energy of a wedding day shoot and the private access it gives me to the stories of the people involved. There’s a thrill that comes from knowing you have an almost open invitation to discreetly document the moments they might not remember until later when they see your work.

I may miss the excitement of wedding day drama, but the business side of it leaves me cold and life passes too quickly to waste time doing things that don’t give back enough to support your passion. I always hated when potential clients wanted haggle over my fees as if we were at the corner market buying and selling fruit. It felt demeaning to us both.

As I was going through my camera gear making decisions about what needed to go, I had everything laid out on a low table in our living room and could see just how much I’d invested over the years. I mentally added up the cost of certain pieces as I picked up a camera with my favorite lens still attached, but it was the weighty feel of it in my hands rather than the money that made me pause as I considered how once it was gone, I was unlikely to ever hold one so substantial again.

I took off the lens cap and looked through the viewfinder and had a serious heart pang at the thought of letting it all go. It’s a lot of money I thought, maybe I should just hang on to this one camera and lens, maybe I could use it for …

After loads of internal dialogue, I replayed the logical reasons why I didn’t need this equipment if I wasn’t doing professional work, but it was the memory of a story I’d heard that reassured me that I was doing the right thing by selling it all now.

Hoarding Your Gold

Most of us have things like this in our lives, they hang around taking up space long after we’ve moved on. I told John that seeing the money-making tools my photography life laid out for me to touch felt a bit like the story of the miser who kept his gold under the floorboards of his house. I can’t remember the details, but what came to mind was the image of the miser up late at night when everyone was asleep, taking out his gold and counting it while admiring its beauty and imagining all the things he could buy with his fortune.

The problem was he never spent it, never shared it, and died with it still hidden under floor.

My camera equipment has been like that for a while … safely tucked away, but not being used. While it was here, there was room for ambiguity about the future, at least with regard to one area of my life. Giving up ‘my gold’ may seem like I’m closing a door on photography, but I’ve got another idea more suited to the life I’m constantly creating.

I’ve been using a camera for over forty years and that’s not going to change. I like shooting on the fly so my gear will likely stay small from now on. It’s funny to see echos of my current style in this playground snap taken when I was ten. It’s one of the few pictures I still have taken with my first camera.

I do love the action shot!

Speaking of action shots, I took this one a few minutes ago. With the exception of a few items, that’s my professional photo life all wrapped up tight and tidy in a box … next stop MPB Photographic. Here’s hoping someone out there finds a good use for my gear.

I’ve still got what I need for now.

“The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE “

Ernst Haas

Pure Charity Or Sweet Tooth

Charity shops and fundraising are huge here in the UK. Pubs have quiz nights where everyone contributes a pound or two to play and the money goes to a different charity. We have auctions to support our parish church and there’s always outdoor activities like the big cookout we have every year with donated burgers from our village pub to raise money for cancer research. I have to say that despite living in such a giving country, I’d not seen a fundraising coffee shop until we went to Jersey last week.

John and I were walking through the Central Market in St Helier when we spotted a place I wanted to have a quick bite of lunch. It was bright and clean with fresh flowers and a menu that was so reasonable in price I was a bit surprised.

Click to Enlarge

I’d like to say that it was the information cards that talked about charities, CLIC Sargent and Jersey Hospice Care that the café supports with its proceeds or the name of the coffee shop, Pure Charity that drew me in, but …

Peanut Butter & Jelly & Red Velvet Cupcakes

… if I’m really honest, I’d have to say it was the cupcakes that caught my eye and that I only became aware of the charity component at the counter when ordering. Once I realized that it was for charity, it seemed only right to order a second cupcake.

I’m sure you would have done the same,” I mean it’s for charity, right?”

L’Etacquerel Fort – Not As Good As My Imagination, But …

I have a very busy imagination which sometimes leads to disappointment when the truth is revealed. Such is the case with L’Etacquerel Fort. Seeing it from a distance, I’d created a much grander story than the truth as we walked the along the coast path in Jersey.

Researching its history gave me an idea though after I discovered that it is available to rent along with several other properties such as one originally named after Queen Elizabeth’s favorite, the Earl of Leicester. We’re looking for places to gather in September when John has a big birthday ending in 0 and I think this one would be great! Fort Leicester has things L’Etacquerel Fort doesn’t have like running water, flushing toilets and beds.

 While John was taking this shot of some posted information about Fort Leicester …

 … I was taking one of him with the top of Fort L visible over his head and later I snapped the one below showing Fort Leicester from a distance.

I think it would be a grand place to stay for a week and an almost perfect place to celebrate a big birthday. It would be best if the weather was good on the day as none of the interior rooms are connected. John was a bit skeptical when I shared my discovery with him so we’ll have to see how it goes. It is his birthday as I keep reminding myself and I MUST listen to what he wants versus what I think he should want.

Getting back to the reason for this post, the orange blob in the photo above is me advancing on the Fort. John decided to stay back and take photos as I went closer for a look around.

I was disappointed to see it locked up tight as I crossed a wooden footbridge, but after discovering it is available for rent, I understand why it is closed to the public. I can’t say I like it, but I do understand.

I have to admit that it was kind of scary tripping across the wooden link from the hillside to the Fort.

Having served as an outpost for soldiers, I could almost hear their boots scraping against the stones as they walked back and forth watching the sea for intruders.

This close-up image from the information plaque below that was posted near the coast path.

While it was not the romantic place I’d envisioned, it does offer possibilities for future fun.

Eating, Sleeping, & Walking On A Jersey Holiday

I’m back with a bit more about our trip to Jersey. Due to John’s daughter having moved last year, we stayed in a B & B this visit. Rachel has a loft/attic room that will eventually be added space she can use for company, but given she’s moved to a seaside location, I think a slightly smaller home is a good tradeoff for being steps from the sand.

The photos just above and below are pictures of Undercliff, the B & B where despite having the best bed ever, I managed to have busy dreams each night. John and I agreed that it was great value for the money. Our room very clean and spacious and only a short walk to the sea. With a tasty breakfast each morning and strong and plentiful coffee, we felt so well looked after by Ida and Richard Huson that we’d recommend Undercliff without hesitation.

Here’s a shot John took from a hill nearby of Undercliff now. It looks as if it’s grown some since the black and while photos below were taken. We had breakfast everyday in the room with the big fireplace shown in the bottom left photo of the four below.

These black and white photos were a series of framed photographs showing Undercliff during or shortly after WWII. As Jersey was occupied by the German military during WWII, John and I decided the terms below for staying at Undercliff were probably after the war because people were not coming to Jersey on holiday when it was occupied. Ration cards are mentioned in the terms below and John said they were using ration cards for some things as late as 1954 in Britain. We stopped rationing in the US in 1946.

This is what you see when you follow a path near Undercliff. It takes you right by the sea and onto the coast path.

John was standing on a rock trying to take a similar picture to the one I snapped just above this one.

There are steps in some places to help along the coast path, but sometimes they seem to go on and on making you wonder if you’ll ever reach the top.

If you look closely at this photo, you can see something that looks like a castle on the piece jutting out near the broken off looking point on the left. We explored the area on our walk and I’ll have close-up images of what we discovered in tomorrow’s post.

We walked about two and half miles to meet Rachel and Jersey Baby Girl for lunch in Rozel which is home to the famous Hungry Man! The food is great and mostly fattening, but a trip to Jersey is not complete without a visit here for lunch.

The best part of lunch was not the yummy bacon-burger I enjoyed, but having a chance to cuddle the little sweetie below.

Squeezing The Jersey Girls

Remember last summer when I was trapped in the US and moaning about all the excitement I was missing with John … I wanted in particular to get my hands on the little darling in the picture above. That finally happened when we went away last week.

We left for Jersey on Monday crossing the English Channel by ferry arriving just in time to keep me from realizing the full effect of a rainy day at sea. I was a bit green when we arrived, but managed to maintain better control over my breakfast than some of the other passengers. John has a cast-iron tummy and ate a prawn sandwich with no problem at all while I counted the minutes to when I could get back on dry land.

The highlight of our five days away was seeing ‘the girls.’ It was the first time I had been to John’s youngest daughter’s new home and over a year since I’d been able to give his eldest granddaughter, Jersey Girl, a big squeeze.

 It was tough to get all three looking at the camera at the same time, but here’s one I managed with John’s new camera.

Some things you never forget such as how to feed a baby, but I didn’t remember how they’re likely to blow bits of whatever they’re eating back at you with every cough, sneeze, or head shake. By the end of her meal, I looked as if I needed to be wearing a bib too.

No one makes JBG giggle like her big sister and they had a splash-a-thon later in the bath of epic proportions. JBG was splashing like she was kin to Shamu at SeaWorld and I got soaked! That’s Clive, he’s JBG’s other grandpa and John is in the background wearing Jane’s fox collar. Jane is JBG’s other grandmother. John was pretending to be a lion a few minutes before I took this photo. There were some others with the fur that I snapped and then forgot about where he was making a series of funny faces. When I asked him why he had such odd expressions on his face, he said, ‘ I was growling!’

I’m not sure what kind of lion he was supposed to be here, but I did ask him to strike a pose.

John and I managed to have a few adventures on our own minus the children which I’ll share over the next few days. I’ll leave you with this rainy day shot of Jersey for now … and hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Ghostly Dreams And Bad Fashion Choices

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had vivid dreams. I’ve been able to do a bit of lucid dreaming and once in a great while I’m able to fly. While I don’t remember every part of my dreams, I can usually recall a fair amount of them when I wake.

Sometimes someone will show up in my dreams who I know is dead. I know you’re probably thinking, “ Dead people, really Elizabeth, hasn’t that been done, “ but it’s true.

I always look forward to those and they don’t happen enough to suit me.

I can’t remember ever having more than one family member or friend show up at a time, but last night was a party. It’s too bad I didn’t know any of the ghosts … oops,  I mean guests.

In my dream, I was looking at my reflection in a large waist-high mirror in the corner of a big room that was fairly dark in the beginning except for the lighting in this one area. I was wearing a dress that appeared to be vintage and I was thinking this was a look I needed to always wear as design suited me so well.

Suddenly, I saw the reflection of a middle-aged woman who was older looking than I am now and she was standing behind me with hair and clothing that looked as if it was from the forties.

Peach was the prominent color. I was wearing it which is something I would never do and she had on a belted peach-colored day dress with tiny flowers on it. She was nodding her head like she was agreeing me about my dress choice and when I turned around she wasn’t there. When I turned back to the mirror she was visible to me again, smiling and nodding like we were old friends.

I had no idea who this woman was in the dream. Normally, I’m calm when ghosts show up in my sleep, but having a stranger made it seem a bit scary and all of sudden I found myself unable to speak and everything I said came out garbled. I felt a bit like Whoopi Goldberg’s character in ‘Ghosts’ when she first hears Sam talking to her and realizes that she’s really hearing from someone dead after years of faking it.

It took me a few minutes to find my voice in my dream and after that it was like ghosts on parade. It was almost as if I had stumbled into a ballroom-sized old garage of some kind where they popped in and out like they were visiting old friends. Sometimes they spoke to me and sometimes they just clustered around each other.

After watching them move a few vintage cars in an unusual way, I found I had the ability to levitate a few myself. Having done that trick, I wondered if I could move myself in a similar way and as quickly as I had the thought, I floated up and across the room as gently as if I was floating on my back in pool of water.

One of the best parts of the dream had to be the dogs. Some of the ghosts had their dogs with them and when I asked, they said they found each other after death.

I wasn’t scared at all after the first sighting and no one seemed bothered by me. My level of comfort did make me consider if I might have been one of them in the dream.

You know, as in dead.

This thought came to me as I was writing this morning and I can say without hesitation that I would not like to spend eternity in a peach-colored party dress in a garage full of cars, dogs, and people I don’t know.

I might could handle jeans and wellies, but that party dress has got to go.

Finding The Right Medicine

I’ve been taking this cough medicine every night hoping if I take enough I can stop coughing long enough to get to sleep before 3:00 AM. Added to that, I’ve been in the guest room for the last week so John can sleep. He didn’t ask, but there was no way I was going to torture him with what sounded as if I were coughing up a lung.

He even suggested I see a doctor when the cough became worse saying he thought I might need an antibiotic and if you knew how he feels about even taking an aspirin, you’ll have an idea of how bad I sounded.

Last night I accepted an invitation to a girl’s night out with some women who live in the village. I was so excited to be asked that I mustered up some energy and went. The hostess knows I’m a light weight when it comes to alcohol and that I rarely drink. Last night she decided to change that up a bit for me.

I think I had five Gin & Tonic’s over the five hours we were all out together. I arrived home feeling sober and relaxed and slept without coughing for the first time in almost two weeks. I woke feeling refreshed with not even a twinge of headache leading me to believe that perhaps the best medicine for a bad cough, might be the one below.

Internet Image

I think we may need to add some Tanqueray to the medicine chest.

Proper dosing might be a bit tricky, I think I can work it out.

Bottoms Up!