I've transferred most of the "Lonesomeville" files to the new hard drive now. There are nearly 8TB of memory used of the new 12TB drive. That's just "Lonesomeville." I'll have to figure out now how to use the old hard drives to store the rest of it. Or. . . I may just need to buy another drive. I haven't even begun sorting all the various stuff from the rest of my long life yet. And most of the Polaroids for "Lonesomeville" have never been scanned.
I was in bad shape yesterday morning and needed REAL food, not this hippie shit I've been eating. I wanted eggs and bacon. I looked in the freezer, and sure as shittin' I had some frozen bacon from god knows how long ago. Half a pack. It was all frost bit when I took it out of the bag. I put it in the microwave to thaw it, then threw it into a pan on the burner outside. I was wary of the smell for some reason, so after a bit, I threw it into the microwave. I was taking no chances.
Eggs went into the greasy pan.
Voila! I went back to bed.
When I got up, I was still feeling woozy. I kept working at transferring files. But I knew I had to get out. The day was most gorgeous and perfect. What to do? I loaded up a film camera with a crazy slow b&w film (ISO 13) and headed out for Viet/Hippie town.
Saturday out on a beautiful day. I walked uncertainly. I hadn't been out with a camera for quite awhile. I'd frame up a shot and then decide not to click the shutter. Then I'd see something stupid, and I'd snap. I wandered off the highway a single block and, as will happen from time to time when you go exploring, I came upon a fantastical scene. Cars were parked for blocks around, and people were walking up and down the road. I saw a sign for a kind of permanent yard sale it seemed. I followed the arrows to a house with a huge banner out front and hippie types wandering about. In the driveway was a food cart trailer thing and a young, tatted up girl with dreads selling clothing. I followed the driveway to the back yard. Apparently I was walking upstream as people were leaving. I'd come late. Vendors were packing up their wares and walking them out to their cars. People were selling everything imaginable. It was a sort of sustainable save the earth market where people sold usable goods like grills and yard decorations--just anything, really--rather than putting them in a junk pile. But I had missed it. Not that I needed to buy or would have bought anything, but it would have been fun to see.
In the far back corner of the yard was a trailer that was decorated with words and symbols out of which a man was selling snacks. There was a man waiting at the window.
"Take a picture," a little voice in my head was saying. O.K. O.K. I put the camera to my eye and focused on the menu board, but I was using a very wide 24mm lens, so I was, in fact, making a picture of the whole scene.
Nobody yelled at me.
I entered the house through the back door and saw that it was a multi-roomed shop of hippie paraphernalia. What I took to be the owner was telling another woman, "Yes, we are closing up but tonight we have live music."
Live music? It surely wouldn't be a loud band. Maybe some hippie playing a guitar or a guy with a conga drum. I pictured a little gathering, hippies sitting around on blankets drinking tea and wine and smoking ganja. Something inside me perked up. I thought I might enjoy that for a bit. I thought that surely I would come back and see. What a bizarre find, I thought, almost magical. Yes, I decided, I would come back if only for a short while.
I walked on down the street. Here was a Buddhist Center, there a shop selling crystals and books on mysticism, then another with a fellow strumming his guitar in a garden, the sign out front promoting a yoga and meditation schedule. I had surely found a community odd and hidden.
I walked further into the neighborhood. Two houses sat side by side, one with a little Berkeley-style garden with gnomes and things out front and a sign that said "Welcome." Next to it was a house with a sign that said, "If You Loot, We Shoot." Wow, I thought, what different attitudes. I tried several photos to capture the dichotomy, but I don't think I was successful.
After awhile, the little neighborhood became "normal' again, so I cut back out to the highway. I was in Viet-town now, among the matcha and boba tea shops and restaurants of different Asian parentage. I spied a new place, a Korean Barbecue Chicken shop called "Chi-Ken." Ooo, I thought, I will definitely have to come back here. On the corner was a "Coming Soon" sign for a vegetable burger shop looking clean and new. The neighborhood was changing.
Turning around to go back to the car, I stuck to the highway passing a string of little shitty clubs advertising live music. I mean. . . dives. Outside of one, a fellow in a leather jacket, lots of silver jewelry, long hair and eyebrow level bangs was talking to an old man with a face covering. I passed them thinking about the loneliness of the old guy, then thinking that that would make a good photograph. I hesitated, then turned around. I walked past them a little way again, then turned around and asked the man with the bangs if he minded me taking a photograph.
"Sure," he said. The old man tried to get out of the photo, but again, I was using a wide angle lens. This photo probably won't work, either. I was too hurried and didn't think. I just framed and snapped. I felt the thing a failure as I walked away saying thanks.
"Sure thing, brother."
Yea, I looked like a guy who could be living under a bridge somewhere. I regretted not taking my time with the photo but was happy that I had gotten enough chutzpah to take even one.
It takes practice, and I had begun again. In my little two mile walk, I shot 36 frames. I had finished the roll. There was that.
When I got home, it was my usual time for visiting my mother. I didn't want to go. I wanted to develop the role of film I had just shot and sit on my deck and chill. But. . . duty called.
When I got to my mother's house, I found her and my cousin were inside chatting with one of the neighbors. I split a beer with my mother and sat down. I was in no mood, though, for the chit-chat that filled the air. My cousin, a former bartender at some sort of VFWish place in rural Ohio, can never leave an empty space in a conversation. My mother asked me something, and I was going to tell her about my day, but the conversation was diverted before I could ever get there. I drank my half beer and said I had to go, that I was going to make Banana Poop Bread and go to a little hippie gathering.
Leaving, I realized how much going there every day decreases my productivity. Counting the time I spend driving, it is an hour and a half to two hours every day just before dark when I might be doing something creative or useful. Over two years now, ever since the beginning of Covid and my retirement. As the old saying goes, it is easy putting your hand into the snake cage, but pulling it out is another thing.
This routine has made me old.
I stopped at the grocers to get eggs and milk and a bottle of wine. Passing the deli, I saw they had smoked chicken. The smoked chicken is good, so much better than the rotisserie chicken that I quit buying that altogether. Boom. Done. All I would need to do would be to make rice and beans and an arugula salad.
Back home, I opened the wine and lit a cheroot and took my usual seat at the table on the deck. I was feeling better, I thought, than I had in the morning. Perhaps I had caught something. Maybe I was getting over it. I'd been "off" for two days or so. The air was beginning to cool. You could feel it falling about your neck and shoulders. Bursts of wind shook the branches of the trees above me. The sky was dead clear. My little garden was beginning to bloom.
As I sat there, my phone began to blow up with text messages. It was from a group text. One of my old colleagues had sent a photo of her daughter in a black dress in front of a Disney pond. It was her prom night. She is the mother with three little girls I used to entertain at the factory, running them around, showing them stuffed birds and skeletons and letting them go crazy. They loved me. Now, the oldest was in her last year of high school. I texted my friend.
"You know, I could have made better photographs."
I've been wanting to photograph her girls for years. She was going to bring them to the studio once long ago, but that never happened. It is probably better, really. They have a father who I've never met. Who knows?
All the group was gushing. I hate group texts. They are like social media, everyone liking a comment, others trying to like the like or like the like more than others like it. I don't know. . . I'm just a miscreant I guess. It is everything I can do to keep my fingers off the buttons.
Making my meal took little time, and soon I was back on the deck eating in the fading light. Would I make the hippie scene? First, I needed to make the banana bread. I pulled up the recipe. Shit! I forgot to get yogurt. I use yogurt instead of milk. I had milk, but I wanted yogurt. I grabbed my keys and headed back to the store.
By the time I started mixing the ingredients, it was eight o'clock. I thought I remembered how to make it, but I didn't. I had to keep checking the recipe. Somehow, it didn't feel like I was making it right. Proportions, maybe. . . I don't know. I spilled the vanilla extract while I was measuring it over the mixing bowl. I tried spooning some of it out. I'd forgotten how long this took.
The mix was in the oven at nine. I wouldn't be going to any hippie fest tonight, I knew. I was going to do what all good men do on a Saturday night. I was going to stay home and bake.
My life. It has turned in on itself, it seems. It is going to take some effort to turn it back out. This morning is crystal clear and cool. Temperatures fell into the forties last night. I should grab a camera and go out this early Sunday morning. Surely I'd find something.
But first, I'll have another cup of coffee and eat some of that bread. Oh. . . it turned out o.k. I left it in the oven a bit too long, so it is a little drier than it should be, but the flavors are all there. Yes, some Poop Bread. . . and then we'll see. A little camera walk. . . maybe. But it is so difficult, you know?
My life needs fixing. It is not at all as when I could just walk into a bathroom with a camera and take photographs of women. Ha! Not at all .
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