AU REVOIR NOËL

For many years now I have found Christmas to be anti-climactic. For weeks there is the buildup – – – the decorating, the holiday parties, the music, the final preparation of gifts, and the gathering of family and friends for Christmas dinner.  Then …  Then ?

So now it’s the day after and for me it’s a let-down.  Back to pedestrian reality.  Part of the therapy is to review all of the pleasant and fun events of the buildup.  One that came to mind was Medford’s Dickens Night.  We haven’t been able to go for six years because I was involved in an annual craft show the same day.  When we did get there it was a wonderful evening.

This year we went back but couldn’t see much of the traditional charm because the street was lined with food tents and crafters’ tents.  “You can’t go home again.”

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On Christmas Eve morning I was starting to feel some of the let-down so I decided that I needed to go to the city to see and photograph people and color and signs of Christmas.  Off I went on a sparsely occupied High Speed Line …. but pleased to find that my fellow riders included lots of children headed for some center-city excitement.

After arrival in the city I decided to go into Macy’s to find the schedule for their light show.  Instead, I found one in process.  Since it had already started, I wound up well in the back but that was OK as I’ve surely seen it off and on since the early 60’s.  Instead I concentrated on other views and enjoyed the process.  My view was blocked by an arch but it was decorated and so became a sample of everything.

The most exciting part of the show was, after its conclusion, to run into Bobby and Sigrid and grand-daughters Maddy and Gretchen.  We even concluded that we had come in on the same train.  They invited me along for their Christmas Eve wanderings but I demurred as I had photographing in mind.  Here was my final shot at Macy’s, taken after the crowd had dispersed.  That eagle has been coming there even longer than me.

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These two shots, however, reminded me of another pleasure several years ago when I captured the Philadelphia Boys Choir at a morning rehearsal before the light show was turned on.

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Outside of Macy’s the show windows were Christmasy and colorful.  Here’s one which included a replica of City Hall.

Nahhh.  That’s a reflection but I liked the combination.

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Then a walk through City Hall.  I had done the west area a couple of weeks ago so this time I exited towards north Broad Street.  This tree at the entrance was attractive.

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From there I walked a couple of blocks east to the Reading Terminal Market, always a favorite.  The market was busy, busy, busy.  I wondered around for a while and then settled in with a PHILADELPHIA Cheese Steak.  It can not be more authentic.  Everyone seemed in a good mood.  After lunch, more wandering including a favorite, the produce area.  A box of Driscoll’s strawberries was about 40% less than at ShopRite and my dazzling personality brought me another 10% off without my asking.  For that she got a “Merry Christmas” and I got an additional smile.  My last stop was at the Pennsylvania General Store for a box of Asher’s dark chocolate salted caramels.  See what I mean about reviewing pleasant events?

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CHANGE OF SUBJECT BUT STILL CHRISTMAS

This week an older image of mine resurfaced as shared on F/B.  It is some photoshoppery of a fisherman’s or hunter’s shack which marked the entrance to Long Beach Island for many years.  Even before its disappearance in Hurricane Sandy, it had become an icon.  It celebrated one’s arrival for vacation and added poignancy when leaving at the end of vacation.  One year I enhanced an image as more of a winter scene and added a Christmas Tree that lives in several of my images.  I subsequently sold many copies at craft shows and a couple of years ago I uploaded it to the Remember When Long Beach Island F/B page.

The original image was made in February, 2005, and the foreground snow was there.  In 2008 I replaced the sky with the gradient blue fill, and added the falling snow effect and the Christmas Tree.  I had captured the tree at the Pittsburgh Winter Garden in 2001.

Well, it has resurfaced and has accumulated over five hundred “Likes” along the way.  That makes for a warm feeling.

And, it helps one get past that anti-climactic feeling.

Merry Christmas for yesterday and for the future!

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P.S.  For more of my peripatetic Christmas Tree, click here.

 

 

CHRISTMAS CARDS PAST

In preparing for a recent craft show appearance I came across this Christmas card which I made and sent eight years ago.  You people probably think this kind of thing is easy:  It’s not!  This one took an hour of negotiation and a bucket of fish before he’d cooperate.  And he insisted on retaining an interest in the image.

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The original was made in Chincoteague.  I’ve always liked the image and I thought why should they disappear after one use.  So, I printed and framed it and I’m enjoying it on my wall for the holidays.  This also made me take a look at other past cards in the file, and I found that they, too, deserved another moment of fame.

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A few years ago two friends from the yacht club were speculating one night (over wine, of course) about having a view of the club under a full moon.  It is reckless to say such things in the presence of a pixel machinist.  Things happen.

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This was, admittedly, over the top but I think it was used that year sans Santa.  The moon shot was from a summer beach; the sheen from yet another.  I had photographed the tree in 2001 at Pittsburgh’s Winter Garden, and it enjoyed a life in many other alien scenes.  Perhaps the strangest was on the Holyoke Avenue jetty during a snow storm.  One friend, showing her confidence in us, asked Barbara if we had actually run an extension cord out on the jetty.  Of course we did.  🙂

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But it also had a more tender moment standing by the old shack along the causeway onto Long Beach Island.  Sadly, both the shack and the tree left with Sandy.

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That wreath around the heron’s neck has also had other assignments.  On a winter trip to the Catskills I found it floating in this stream.

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In yet another year it served as a frame for my Box Hill home.

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And here, decorating a race course marker under a guiding cormorant on the sailing grounds.

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A couple of years ago I experimented with photographing the Milky Way. The LBI beach is not a dark sky location but I had fun and produced a couple of creditable images.  Then, come December, this image fell into my head and stayed there.

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I once sent this picture to a friend, claiming it was evidence that Santa spent his summers at Beach Haven.  In the original he was surrounded by his pots of tomato plants.  She replied, “Oh, yeah, where’s the Christmas Tree?”  Wrong question as the revised picture showed.

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I don’t always mess with the pixels.  Here is a scene in a hallway of the Melk Abbey in Austria.  I hope they had floor polishers, and that the nuns didn’t have to do that floor.

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I’ve always loved this winter scene with its pictures of my family on the window seat at Box Hill.  Lots of eye-filling memories here.  Even some of those pictures had served as past Christmas cards, dating back to the last century.  Of the girls on the left, Maddy’s now out of college, and Gretchen will finish in 2017.  How did that all happen?

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Finally, in recent years I’ve been sending out a montage of my year’s work and art and fun with photography.  Here it is for 2016.  You can see the thumbnails better in a larger version by clicking here.

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Where would I be without my family and friends?

So, Merry Christmas and love to you,

and to all friends, Happy Holidays,

and “To All A Good Night”.

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GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

One of our Long Beach Island symbols for many years has been the Fisherman’s Shack.  More properly a hunters’ shack it was said to date from the 20’s and to have been on the marshes adjacent to Route 72 since the 50’s.   It became a traditional signal that one had arrived at the beach and, passing it on the way home, a farewell to happy vacation memories.  Unfortunately the years took their toll and the shack deteriorated.  There were outcries for preservation, and volunteers installed interior bracing.  When I last photographed it three years ago the roof was gone and the internal bracing 2×4’s could be seen.

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I had photographed it earlier in 2005 when its character was still on display.

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The 2005 winter image became the basis for a Christmas Card, and many prints of it have since been sold at craft/art shows.

There have been hundreds of Shack scenes, photographs and paintings, but only one with a Christmas Tree in a gentle winter’s night snowfall.

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Well, Hurricane Sandy came and went last fall, and the Shack went with it.  It was completely flattened and its timbers were disbursed to the meadows.  This was a very sad event for residents and the thousands of annual visitors to LBI.   A strange thing, however, happened to me this past week.  I was returning to the island on a sun-filled, puffy cloud day.  Held up by traffic I momentarily looked over at the Shack’s former site.

Wonder of wonders…..a phenomenon….. some weird diffraction of the sun’s rays…..a shimmering mirage.  Whatever… it was briefly there and saying softly,

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“Please don’t forget me.”

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Gone But Not Forgotton E 700 B

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