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daily fieldnotes » Catching images
 
daily fieldnotes

Catching images category archive

Elegance 2

Isn’t the detail on this porch just full of grace? It’s my favorite place to be in the summer here. All yellows and whites, and bright greens. An amaryllis, spider ferns, impatiens, and marigolds. In the mornings the air is cool, and the wind rustles the tall white curtains. We eat breakfast looking out, the breeze keeping the heat at bay for a little while. I can’t imagine coordinating my own porch so perfectly, or hanging up curtains outside, but they are so beautiful.

Magic Hour 9

Photographers call dusk the “magic hour”, as the light softens in a way that brings softness and dramatic contrast to the camera lens, and makes us all glow more beautifully.

Here, we walk on a beach just outside Marbella, on a mission to explore new places around this apartment JJ’s parents now have. The water of the Mediterranean felt warm against my bare feet, the sand soft against my toes. A little girl sat, looking into the distance, perhaps dreaming of where she’s from. Three small children dug in the sand, as excited about making a hole as most kids get about a new toy. And JJ and I strolled along, him avoiding rocks, me going up to my knees in the surf, almost losing a flip flop.

The magic hour, on this beach, this evening. In this life, right now.

Magic. Because it’s so soothing and relaxing, like spreading cool lotion on a sunburn, for JJ and I to spend time together, alone, for a couple of days here after three weeks with his parents.

But mostly, magic because I’m pregnant at last! Due in February! We are so, so thrilled. I can’t wait to share more.

Wandering Old Town Marbella 1

Wandering old town Marbella with the family last weekend, in search of charming alleys, gardens, and ice cream. Tomorrow, we head back to the coast for another 4 days, just the two of us this time.

Shadows and reflections in the city 1

I am determined to move out of this city. At the same time, I am determined to enjoy it now that my mind is made up. And there is little I enjoy more than taking walks with the camera, snapping pictures right and left, getting ice cream with JJ, or coffee, or appetizers at the Ferry Building.

Our first apartment was down by the baseball park, and we often walked along the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building and downtown, taking pictures of the bridge or the old fireboat house, talking about technology and education, or dreaming about the future. “I’ve always wanted to live in San Francisco” I said, “and here we are”. It was so right for that time in our lives.

Now, we’re in our fourth house here, counting a short-term sublet last summer. Six years have gone by, with one away in Barcelona. We’re in a quiet neighborhood, and our house is the bottom floor of a 3-story Victorian, with views of buildings climbing the hills behind, and the brown peaks of the highest point in the city. It’s very quiet for the city, with easy parking, a small back deck, and a garden down below. The neighborhood is clean, and the shops are delightful. There’s a cafe 3 blocks away where I like to go work on my dissertation, or just write.

It’s the nicest place we’ve lived so far. But this summer, I’ve finally realized that as much as I’ve enjoyed living in San Francisco, it’s not home. I am ready to grow roots, but not here. I need to be somewhere that’s warmer, wilder-feeling with more open space. Somewhere where we can own a house, paint the walls any color we want, garden and know it’s ours.  I’m not a city girl, it turns out!

So we are talking about moving. And I am trying to make this feel like home in the meantime.

It makes me wonder: When did you feel like you’d really put down roots somewhere? What made you feel that way? Was it children? Buying a house? Getting a job you loved? Something else?

Unexpected reflection 1

Ironing tends to pile up in a basket at the bottom of the closet in this house, favorite shirts crumpled in balls next to skirts not worn for months. Then one day I pull it all out and try to make a dent. Today, still weak after days of the flu, I set to it.  Pressed a striped, black shirt I haven’t worn since February. Sprayed steam and smoothed the wrinkles from a new flowered blouse I’m anxious to wear again. Hung each one in the closet as I finished, walking from the living room where Djokovic was beating Nadal in the Italian Open final, to the bedroom full of morning light. Another shirt. Two more pairs of pants. Sweating and tired of it already, I went to hang a red cotton shirt with round white buttons, hoping the pile remaining would look smaller.

As I slid open the mirror closet door, bright slants of light caught my eye through the sliding glass door. I lay the shirt on the bed, grabbed a camera, and started playing with the composition. But the pictures just looked like lines of light on painted, brown deck wood; nothing interesting after all.

But then I noticed the supple curves of Twin Peaks reflected in a small puddle of water along the railing above the slants of light. I moved closer, crouching down, trying to see sky, trees and hills. I ran for the other camera, kept looking for a different angle. Just like that, the morning felt like magic, as I caught this reflection of our familiar view in a stripe of last night’s rain.

Bridge and pier 0

Spring on 24th St. 1

Fluffy, pink, clouds of petals blanket the trees in our neighborhood right now. On windy days there’s a carpet of petals below, light pink and fluffy like cotton candy. We woke up early Saturday morning after a late night with friends, walk down to 24th Street. Bought strawberries, artichokes, fresh bread,  and a fennel bulb at the Farmer’s Market. Got my favorite chips and yoghurts from the grocery store, morning buns from the neighborhood bakery. I handed the groceries to JJ, took pictures, trying to capture the candy pink, wild feeling of the trees juxtaposed against the meticulously painted Victorians, all brightly contrasted with an eggshell blue sky.

To be repeated.

City life 2

I work on my thesis in the downtown library between interviewing immigrant parents about raising their children in San Francisco. I hear curses as I walk to the first interview, coming from a young girl in a suit wearing a bright red blouse that’s now getting soaked from the pelting rain. She throws the offending umbrella to the curb in frustration and starts to run. I hold onto my own umbrella with two hands, bracing myself against the wind.

Visiting good friends 1

No travel is quite as wonderful as visiting a dear old friend. Even when the reason for the trip is a stressful presentation (more on that in another post!). Sitting around the house, petting her cat, helping her study. Going out to breakfast, walking 10 minutes in the wet Seattle weather to a new place in their neighborhood. Talking about whatever comes to mind. Making up stories to help her remember obscure or generic psychological assessments for her upcoming exam.

In the evening we sit working and studying, and suddenly there’s a rainbow. We climb on the coffee table together to see better, watching its colors grow darker, then fade, then grow dark again. We both run to get our cameras, then go downstairs and outside, in bare feet on the wet grass, leaning to capture the full arc. “That’s our good luck” she said, thinking of her exam this week, and my presentation.

“Isn’t there supposed to be a pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow?” I asked her. We met in kindergarten, and I remember the pictures we used to draw together, crayons pressing color into paper, imagining the treasures we would find under rainbows. “Maybe we should go down the street and see what’s there?” I teased, feeling the spark of wondrous possibility we had when we explored as kids.

Where did that idea come from anyway? Is there a fairy tale with rainbows and pots of gold in it?

Rocks, Water, Sky 3

*Photos from last weekend’s trip to the Northern California coast, up to Salt Point State Park.