I spent a couple of hours with Julia today - we're definitely on for Moscow in the Spring - I'll come in on the 28th of May and leave on the 6th of June , and we'll take a trip to Saint Petersburg on the night train in the middle of the visit. Unfortunately it will be far too warm for me to wear my giant Russian fur hat while sweeping along the banks of the Moskva. 

Today I found out that the affectionate/pet version of my name in Russian is Sarouchka. I like it! I think it's cute how Russian pet names take so long to say. In English they're all abbreviated, usally with some kind of -ie or -y sound at the end - Hilary = Hilly, Elizabeth = Betsy, etc. But take Alexander - it's not Alex, it's Sachenka. Julia is Yuletchka. Who, incidentally, also sent me some pictures from a recent ballroom dancing competition. She's sooooo gorgeous!

When I was in KC with the nieces yesterday (the whole family is battling an awful cold) I had out my S700, as the battery for the FZ-28 was so low that I figured it wouldn't make it through the day: a bad call, as the day was so busy I only got off a few pictures anyway, and most of them were hopelessly blurry - it was a trouper in Paris, but the wee beastie has never done well indoors. It's strictly an outdoor kitty. But I got a few cute ones anyway:


The noise level is unfortunate - they're pretty far from tack sharp.  I might try to fix them up a bit in Photoshop - I haven't really learned how to do any digital manipulation yet because I've got this mental roadblock about it - I'm concerned that if I start monkeying around with them I'll be less disciplined about working on taking inherently good photographs. "Oh, I'll fix that later" is just not something I want to start thinking while I'm shooting. The compositions are pretty good though, considering that little  kids are basically quarks. Next time I see them I'm going to use them to practice panning shots.

Alex is pretty cool. See how little she is? Just a little baby. But she knows SO many words, and when she says them they come out clear as a freaking bell. It's actually pretty startling. She'll be bopping along, doing stuff, playing, kind of doing this la-la-la kind of thing, and then she'll say: SOCKS. And it's completely clear, like someone on a language learning tape saying "SOCKS. Chausettes." And you look at her feet and yeah, her socks need fixing. SOCKS. BABY. GATE. And, like sweet music to my ears, SARAH. Samantha was really quite ill - she ended up in the ER that night. It's astonishing to me how smart kids are - I've never really known any before - and how articulate they can be with what they've got vocab-wise. 

When I was downloading these from the S700 I found a few stray photos from my trip back from Paris - mostly failed shots from the Roissybus, and some pictures of people that I took in the Philly airport on my layover, all experiments trying to find my white balance under fluorescents without a control. Ha. Mental note: have one of those in the bag. But I got a few good ones - this is my favorite:

This guy is composing music on his laptop and then listening to it on some headphones.

I really like living in the 21st century sometimes. Watching him compose music - his whole process between paper and laptop and listening to his headphones, repeat repeat repeat - was really interesting to see. Also: think about how hard this whole rig would make an 18th century composer's head explode. Though I suspect the Bach family would have just gone "Das ist Schöööööön" and set up a LAN composing party on the spot. Just a hunch.

Today I was feeling restless - I'm really ready to go home and am soooo glad I've got everything sorted with my little red rocketship's insurance (where was my agent? I do not like his answering machine) and registration (the renewal sticker didn't get forwarded), but there's something wrong with the stereo (I turn it on and the digital display says: CODE - c'est tout - I am assuming the code here is blue) and it develops a scary orbital re-entry shake above 70 mph. Probably just tire pressure whatsit, but they might as well do it for me there since the stereo needs looking into anyway. Hopefully it can go to the shop tomorrow.

So I bounced out to the prairie in my mother's exceedingly bebouncy Honda Element, which has a ride as smooth as extra-chunky peanut butter, and I set up my tripod, and I waited for the sky to say cheese, which it really does in its own sweet time. SUNSETS. TOTALLY ORIGINAL, AMIRITE?  I sat out there for about half an hour, just watching it, waiting. Results:

Temple of Ra. Kansas edition.

The landlocked sky dreamt it was a sea...

And then it showed me the money:

So that was pretty much worth it. Prairie sunsets like this, where the sky is heavy as a woolen blanket compressing the light down into shadow almost as soon as it breaks the horizon - they look like supernovas, or nuclear blasts. And I like them. They're not as flashy or feathery or colorful or plumed and extravagant as a coastal sunset, that's for sure - but somehow, just as dramatic. Maybe even more intense. Quiet and direct as a serious man's gaze. BANG.

Apollo has a job to do.



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