Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lost saw

Earlier this week I bought a hand saw at the Home Depot. When I got home I could not find it in the car and thought that probably I had left it behind at the store. It took me an hour to be put through to the person who deals with this kind of absent-mindedness. After giving the person who finally came on the line the item number on my receipt she told me that they had found a saw, but just a minute... this one was a Stanley; mine was a Dewalt. Then she said, "I remember you, I recognize your accent. I'll put the details in the book. Just come in and show your receipt and pick up another." 

Speaking with an archaic English accent, and at least, not looking like a crook, surely helped. But encountering an angel was the luckiest part.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Caroline and Hansel

Sadly we may be seeing less of Hansel now that he has a live-in guardian at his house in Garrison. For the last month, whenever Caroline had a day working at home or at the weekend, she would collect Hansel and bring him to our house where he would either make himself comfortable on the sofa, or on our bed alongside our dog Louis. He quickly learnt not to go anywhere near Louis' bones, or near Nutmeg, one of our cats who dislikes all other animals and most humans. Others have been doing the same thing while Hansel was temporarily without a housemate.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hana's idea

During the talk I gave at The Wherehouse benefit evening in Newburgh last week, Hana, above, asked, "May I suggest you give up the idea of renting a cherry picker for installing the photographs. They are very expensive, aren't they? Keep the money for taking more photographs and ask the Fire Department if they would donate the use of one of their engines with a long ladder and platform. They once helped us out on a job."

Hana is an AmeriCorps volunteer with Habitat for Humanity who build houses for those in need.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In spite of the large amount of time taken up with printing, mounting, installing and fundraising for my Newburgh Exhibition, there is time left for domestic bliss in the form of stewed red currents, as done by Mrs. Beaton, accompanied by a glass of Sauternes. The dog belongs to Sandy Saunders and is a friend of our dog Louis. He comes for visits at the week-ends. His name is Hansel.   

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father and daughter

Father and daughter shrimping in The Solent, England, early 1970s.

The camera still loves me.

Number 103 Renwick Street in Newburgh is a small three story house. On the right of it a car sits behind a high wooden fence with grass growing to the height of its wheel arches. On the other side of the house, more cars behind a chain linked fence, a tiny cottage beyond and three dogs barking, running up to the fence, bouncing off it and charging up to it again. All the blinds at Number 31 were drawn. Clothes were stuffed in the gaps where the air conditioner curtains would normally fill the space. An air conditioner fitted to a street level window had clothes in the gap but the clothes had been drawn aside a little, presumably to let in fresh air or to inspect activity in the street. 

Somewhere in this house we hoped we would find Toni, one of my subjects who was going into my book of Newburgh portraits. We needed her signature on a release in case we I wanted to use the picture of her, taken about 12 years ago, on the cover of the book. Through her sister, Caroline had found Toni on Facebook. She had agreed to sign and meet us at her house at 3.30 PM.  I knocked on the door several times and the only response I got was from a neighbor across the street, a Hispanic man in his sixties with a fragile command of English. He seemed to want to help but shook his head continuously saying that he did not have anything to do with the people who lived there and did not know if a young woman with three children lived there. Then I saw her name on the mailbox so I suggested to Caroline we sit in the car and wait.

We waited only a minute or two before a couple appeared followed shortly by a third person who said that indeed Toni did live there. "Go through the front door, down the corridor and her door is at the end on the left." It had not occurred to me that the front door might be open. On reaching the end of the corridor I knocked on the door on the left. There was a half minute pause perhaps and then a voice asked who it was. I said, "It's Dmitri, the photographer you were expecting." The door opened slowly and a female figure stood in the threshold surrounded by children. It was no lighter in the apartment than it was in the corridor that was lit only by the curtained glass front door. She said hello smiling a greeting that conveyed a warm welcome.

I said. "Do you remember what you said when I stopped you in the street and asked to take your picture?" Without hesitation she said, "I said yes." I replied that she did not only say yes but had added, "Of course you can, the camera loves me." She asked us to come in and the children crowded around Louis to pet him. 

The only light in the room was from the cracks in the window shades. But I could see clearly enough to catch the glow of the clear complexion of Toni's lovely smiling face. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?"

"About 12 years, I think."

I explained about the need for her to sign a release. She moved across the room to a book case and switched on a small desk lamp on one of the shelves. Then I saw, propped against a division, slightly crumpled in places, an eight by ten print of the picture I had taken of her twelve years ago. Caroline and I were both very moved at the sight of it. I had with me, in an envelope, a larger version, recently printed on my digital printer. I pulled it out and gave it to her. While the smallest child turned up the volume of the stereo to maximum, Toni found a pen and without saying anything to the child turned the stereo off. "I think it's the sixth today, isn't it?" and signed the release.

I said I would love to take another picture of her but she said she would like to dress differently so could we do it another time. We moved towards the door and the children came with us on to the doorstep where they played with Louis for five minutes until their mother called them in to tidy up their room.

We returned today and I took this picture.