snugglepot and cuddlepie
i got my masters degree in aerospace engineering from stanford university, and there, still in my 20s, i met angus from australia. angus was one of those spiky geniuses who tend to find their way to stanford, but he was, unlike many of those spiky geniuses, very people-smart. over the years, though we are separated by most of the pacific ocean, he has given me three of the most thoughtful and valuable gifts i have ever received from anyone. he once sent me a hunk of raw opal from his native land that still sits on one of my shelves. he once sent steve and me a bottle of penfolds grange hermitage wine that was the backdrop to one of the most memorable meals of my life. and while i was pregnant with our firstborn daughter, he sent me a series of australian children’s stories that steve and i ended up reading to both of our children and which have entered the mythology of our family. there was the muddle-headed wombat. and there were snugglepot and cuddlepie, two eucalyptus gumnut babies, who look like slightly hairy versions of today’s photo. here’s to snugglepot and cuddlepie, and to author mary gibbs, and to the land of oz, and to great children’s stories, and to friendship that spans cultures and decades and oceans.
a late spring blizzard that has blanketed us in 10 inches of freshly fallen snow has me reaching for household plants to photograph. it’s a funny thing about household plants, that we live with them but never really learn about them. have you ever googled “english ivy” or “spider plant”? see what i mean? we assume we know these members of our household, because they are with us every day. but we don’t know them at all. case in point, i just googled anthurium. and i learned that the air purifying qualities of anthurium have an effect on formaldehyde, ammonia and volatile organic gases. several anthuriums in a room reduce the harmful substances in buildings by more than 50% in 24 hours. it’s like discovering that your son, who spends all day on the couch at home watching youtube, has also discovered the cure for cancer in his spare time.
food photography is hard
my stretch goal for in 2018 was is to add the occasional food photo, but do it in a STILL blog style. i thought it would be pretty straightforward–just treat the food as i would a nature specimen. isolate it on a white background. pick an angle that emphasizes some aspect of the subject, either the graphic form, or the natural beauty, or the ingenious design. all my usual tricks. but it is proving to be so much harder than that. i can’t tell yet why that is so. perhaps we are all too familiar with food products? or maybe it’s that there is so much food photography out there that it’s really hard to do anything new? i don’t know. anyway, i am struggling. in a good way. i feel challenged. i’m excited for the local growing season to start so i can start getting better subject materials. it is good to feel like an amateur again.
peeled granny smith apple
whatever makes you smile
a few months ago i read the book a gentleman in moscow by amor towles. i have mentioned before how much i liked the book. but i was reminded of it again today as i waited in line at my local post office. in the book, towles uses the expression ‘potted palm’ repeatedly. and every time he did, it made me smile. i can’t explain why, perhaps the alliteration, or perhaps a subconscious association of potted palms with gentile settings in tropical climates. whatever it was, it made me smile. so today, while waiting my turn at the post office, i eyed two large and mostly ignored potted palms at the end of a corridor. potted palms! i thought. i don’t know if stealing a potted palm leaf from the post office constitutes a felony theft of government property but if so, i am newly a felon. but a felon who has just given herself the opportunity to use the phrase “potted palms” half a dozen times, and who is smiling.
schefflera leaf (australian ivy palm)
it’s possible to be too pretty. i have watched the struggles of some friends who were so pretty that they were eventually defined by their beauty, and couldn’t escape it to be something other than beautiful. i think of this ranunculus a little bit like that. this is my first photo of this species. i guess i have always just assumed that it gets photographed to death because it is so beautiful that the sight of it almost catches in your throat. after six years of daily STILL blog photos, here is my first encounter with ranunculus, a flower that now reminds me of the pretty girl in high school who never gets asked to prom, because everyone assumes someone else has, surely, already asked her. will you be my date, ranunculus? i think you’re pretty great.