August, 2011 Archives

Frogs To The Right, Toads To The Left

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August 25th, 2011

Four jobs ago, the guy that sat across from me used to ask every day, “how are the frogs doing?” I guess it’s been quite some time, then, since our plague showed up. Exodus notwithstanding, we sorta kinda love these guys. We have two window wells allowing a bunch of light into our basement. They […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcwindowfrog.jpg

Four jobs ago, the guy that sat across from me used to ask every day, “how are the frogs doing?” I guess it’s been quite some time, then, since our plague showed up. Exodus notwithstanding, we sorta kinda love these guys.

We have two window wells allowing a bunch of light into our basement. They also allow a bunch of amphibians. Maybe they fall in; perhaps they burrow, but every year toads and frogs show up for extended stays. I took to putting upside down frisbees in their habitats to collect rainwater and maybe even attract more flies. Our visitors appreciate the accommodations and I regularly find them soaking there, staring at me enigmatically.

In the morning when I let the dogs upstairs, we have a ritual where the dogs and I check in with the guests to see how many there are and if the population has been attacked by a rogue mole which every now and again runs rampant through the colony, decimating them then dying almost instantly.

They make me feel good about myself. Years ago I read reports about the mysterious declining frog population. If they’ve decided to seek refuge at our place, we must be good people. “You can’t fool a frog,” my great grand pappy used to say.

Not really.

But if our home offers a respite, a way-station or even just a break from the work-a-day world then I’m happy to add that to the list of positive things about myself. The fact that I don’t rescue and release them doesn’t detract from my goodness as a human being, at least in my limited view of self. We’ll usher out the bunnies or mice, even if it takes hours to help them understand their escape options, (and sign the hold-harmless waiver).

There’s something about the mystery and wonderment of having these creatures show up. They add a bit of depth to our existence. In Egyptian mythology they represent life and fertility. African myth portrays them as representatives of transformation and rebirth. And in Japan they’re all about good luck.

I’ll take all those associations and more. I can use all the luck and life and transformation I can get. Fertility? Not so much. But hey, I shouldn’t throw the baby out with the frisbee water.

And as if they got together and decided to tax the limits of my symbology, lately they’ve decided to segregate themselves. The frogs have taken the right window well as their own while the toads hopped to the left one. This simply has to mean something but each time I check in with them, they stare at me as if to say, “duh.”

I can’t help thinking they’re messing with me, like merry tricksters or cosmic clowns trying to elevate my thinking to higher levels. Pretty heavy philosophy I’m dropping on Kermit’s kin. By no means do I think I’ll ever figure it out, rationally anyway. Perhaps I’ll come to some understanding that resonates on a deeper level with me. But it’ll most likely sound silly and if I share my conclusion, I’m guessing you’ll stare blankly at me, like my boarders do every morning.

My Apologies

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August 22nd, 2011

I am so sorry. That’s the last time I leave my blog open and running while I walk away from the computer. It appears one of my dogs, (neither one is admitting it), jumped up and shared his opinion. Look, I have nothing against cats. We have owned a few over the years and they’re […]

I am so sorry. That’s the last time I leave my blog open and running while I walk away from the computer. It appears one of my dogs, (neither one is admitting it), jumped up and shared his opinion.

Look, I have nothing against cats. We have owned a few over the years and they’re generally warm and loveable. I would never allow any open felinist behavior under my roof. This world is a mean enough place without inter-species hatred making it nastier.

I apologize to all the cats who have sent me letters and email decrying my position and I thank them for pointing out the website hack. Know this; I will be far more diligent in the future and if either dog even sniffs my keyboard, they will be sent to sensitivity training immediately.

Another great Rodney, Rodney King said it best, “can’t we all just get along?” And that’s what I wish for this world. Liberals and Conservatives, Palestinians and Israelis, The Kardashians and Jersey Shore kids and yes, felines and canines all need to take a deep breath and celebrate our common bonds.

One day dogs and cats will walk paw in paw, and there will be hope for us all.

dog blog

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August 20th, 2011

i hat cats

i hat cats

Digging My Photo Roots

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August 13th, 2011

In many real and wonderful ways, not being a professional photojournalist any more allows me to be a real photographer once again. For three decades I made my livelihood in the journalism business and ever since it came to an end, more than two years ago, I have been slowly reconnecting to my roots. The […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcHeidelbergTay.jpg

In many real and wonderful ways, not being a professional photojournalist any more allows me to be a real photographer once again. For three decades I made my livelihood in the journalism business and ever since it came to an end, more than two years ago, I have been slowly reconnecting to my roots.

The minute I was pushed out the Free Press doors, I began looking for a decent camera. A young cop on craigslist had just what I needed; a used Nikon 700. We met at a bookstore to make the exchange, money for megapixels, (if you’re a young reader, bookstores are places where people used to congregate and buy bound copies of words printed with ink on paper).

Even though it was used and it’s now about three years old, I just noticed today that Nikon still lists it as one of their top — albeit cheapest — professional models. I share this fact for a reason; but right now I’m at a loss for what that reason is.

When a fascinating request came in for Marci to photograph a senior portrait with graffiti in the background, we decided to drive around Detroit looking for safe, but well-tagged walls in advance of the shoot. As any good parent would do, we brought the girls with us, and some of their friends.

We ventured not too far from safe and secure locales, finding empty fields and litter-strewn/cracked sidewalks where dog poo and broken glass were the biggest problems. Obviously keeping an eye out for danger, we emptied the van of teens and gear and shot some really eye-catching, urban scenes. Marci’s pictures and composition, as usual, turned out far better than mine, but I held my own.

The pictures were looking pretty nice on the backs of our cameras so we decided to try more places. Remembering the cool, artsy beauty of The Heidelberg Project, we drifted over that way. Our luck was shining as we ran into Tyree Guyton, the artist responsible for Heidelberg. Watching us shoot our daughters, he strolled up to make sure we weren’t doing this for some glitzy publication which would exploit him, or worse, make money using his artwork. When he was satisfied we were just having fun, he actually invited us to participate.

Skye was asked to “reimagine the dot” as Tyree put it. He gave her a can of paint to create the latest circle on his flowing streetscape. He then invited us into one of the houses along the block to add our individual chalk-scrawled messages to the walls. It was an amazing counterpoint for us. We started out taking pictures; we ended by leaving artwork behind.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcSkyecomposite.jpgJust messing around with photography somehow resonates deep inside of me with a feeling I can’t quite describe. It’s a craft I used to fall asleep every night thinking about when I was a kid and now the passion burns again. I’m soothed by that feeling. Especially in counterpoint to a photo friend who recently mentioned how fed up he is with photography. I trust very soon he’ll stumble onto the golden moments that keep you coming back, like a golfer who nails the perfect drive. Hopefully, for him, unemployment won’t be his catalyst.

Several of my photo friends have found other callings that have pulled them away from their original craft. Some of the state’s best photographers are now jewelry designers, web producers or unemployed, like me. But I’m guessing there’s always a camera somewhere nearby them, metaphorically or otherwise.

I’m lucky. I’ve found writing, health and parenting as other passions. I realize it’s rare to have that many things that keep your motor running and push you out of bed in the morning. I thank the cosmos for that. Oh, friendship too. I thank all of you who’ve allowed me to be dopey, deep, depressed or downright Rodney.

You’ve put up with a lot from me, but hopefully you too have taken as much as you’ve left.