January, 2012 Archives

Photo Safari

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January 26th, 2012

Snow ladder photo by Rodney CurtisWhen Pal Farina and I decided to head up north, we didn’t plan on it being the snowiest night of the year so far. Granted, “snowiest” is a bit of a misnomer since we’ve seen about as much of the white stuff this year as has Florida. The mountains in […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcTwiggy.jpgSnow ladder photo by Rodney CurtisWhen Pal Farina and I decided to head up north, we didn’t plan on it being the snowiest night of the year so far. Granted, “snowiest” is a bit of a misnomer since we’ve seen about as much of the white stuff this year as has Florida. The mountains in the Sunshine State may have even seen more.

It took us forever, driving to Oscoda and his in-law’s place on the lake. But a man’s weekend awaited us. It turns out real men alone in the wilderness spend their time making and eating Rice Krispie treats and napping a lot.

But they also go out for a tramp in the winter wonderland. We found a tramp, but he didn’t want his picture taken. Still, Farina and I being photo editors by training, had fun snapping stills in the snow.

The snowmobilers whizzing by us probably felt the same way we did; with all of three or four inches, we should probably make hay while the sun shines. It’s crazy; by this time there’s normally a few feet. Those that deny Global Warming should take a look outside today on this, Michigan’s 175th birthday. Or they could explain the houseflies showing up in January, but I digress.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcSnowfallingOnCedars.jpgSnowfall on cedar by Rodney CurtisMostly our trip — and this blog entry — was about photography. And although our images weren’t earth shaking, they were fun to make. Art is as much about the process as the final product. Too often we forget the joy of making the picture as we rush to get them posted or published. I was fortunate enough on this journey to sit back and play. I used a point-and-shoot, an iPhone and my regular professional Nikon. It was a blast.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcWoody.jpgFrozen beach by Rodney CurtisThere’s something about the bracing cold and the crispness of the day that brings out colors, textures, tones and definitely snot. I hope to see more snow before winter ends, even though we like to complain about it when it shows up. It seems unnatural without it. Pictures of dead grass, dry leaves and your neighbor’s trash on your lawn just aren’t as pretty without a nice white covering.

Oh, and before I forget; Happy Birthday Michigan. What do you get for a state that has everything?

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcSunset.jpgSun setting on Huron photo by Rodney Curtis

Comfort Food For Thought

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January 22nd, 2012

Chocolate mousse and whipped cream photo by a hungry Rodney CurtisWe’ve been eating a lot of chocolate pudding around here these days. If January is a disease, pudding is the cure. Even though this particular January has lacked the snow and cold of its predecessors, it’s still the first month of the year and remains […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rc_chocolate_mousse.jpgChocolate mousse and whipped cream photo by a hungry Rodney CurtisWe’ve been eating a lot of chocolate pudding around here these days. If January is a disease, pudding is the cure. Even though this particular January has lacked the snow and cold of its predecessors, it’s still the first month of the year and remains guilty by association.

My wife, who’s been Weight Watching, slurps down the sugar-free/fat-free version of Jell-O. I mix my mousse medley with whole milk and spray canned whipped cream on top (Note: there’s no sadder sound in the universe than the anemic sputtering of an empty can, burbling out its final spew).

The daughters go back and forth between whose they like more. The winner loses and has to make another batch. Thankfully, we have that high horsepower KitchenAid stand mixer I got for Christmas. I say whip it. Whip it good.

Whatever it takes to make it through the month is acceptable. Comfort food is as good a thing as any, although I yearn in my soul for Grandma’s chocolate pudding with those lovely skins on top. I fear this generation growing up behind me will never get to experience things like pudding skins, Jiffy Pop, peanut butter and marshmallow spread in a jar and Marathon bars.

I guess that’s a good thing. My daughters have cared about their health forever. I don’t remember even hearing about “health food” until I was a teen and that meant, basically, drinking 2% milk and maybe a Tab. You could still accompany that with a peanut butter/marshmallow sandwich as long as it was on whole wheat.

Thankfully, we’re far more enlightened about food these days (my pudding paragraphs earlier notwithstanding). But in these bleak and battering days of January, I care as much about eating healthy as I do about that cruise ship captain who abandoned ship.

I have a secret though. I’ve stumbled onto a store that sometimes sells retro food items and every now and again I’m instantly transported back to the 70s. I can’t tell you where this is (Nino Salvaggio) but my latest finds are Five Alive juice and Quisp cereal! Oh yeah, that definitely deserved an exclamation point.

January is more than halfway over and I can type this note while lying under the covers, dreaming about macaroni and cheese. God, I sound pregnant; I just Googled “Whatever happened to Oscar Mayer Smokey Links?”

I have a pair of those all-spectrum lights that are supposed to elevate your mood. They’re still in a box under my bed though; I think Kraft and Kellogg’s might be better suited to the task.

Oh look, the sun just rolled into view for a few minutes. I think I might just mix up some soft pretzel dough and enjoy the blue sky. Anyone know a good recipe for gooey melted cheese dip?

Reading this to Marci just now, she asks, “I can tell you’re Jonesing; did you eat lunch yet?”

What do you think, babe?

Activism’s Cost

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January 12th, 2012

It’s 4:07 a.m. and my daughter is a limp dishrag. Still, she’s using a phrase like, “I’m trying to figure out the opportunity costs of not turning something in.” She may not have said that exactly, but it was very close. I don’t have a recording of our conversation. While I stumble back to bed, […]

It’s 4:07 a.m. and my daughter is a limp dishrag.

Still, she’s using a phrase like, “I’m trying to figure out the opportunity costs of not turning something in.” She may not have said that exactly, but it was very close. I don’t have a recording of our conversation.

While I stumble back to bed, she refuses something to drink or a bite to eat. Not enough time. She’s been answering questions, texting and sending out emails all dealing with our mayor here in Troy.

Maybe you live somewhere under a rock and haven’t heard what’s been going on. Personally, I’d like to join you there. Do you have wifi? The rest of you will understand. Our city’s mayor just seems to keep on offending people.

This time Skye heard her say something incredibly offensive. The mayor claims it was something a bit less offensive. Semantics. The last time I saw her, she was literally hiding from a television news camera and sneaking out of City Hall. The mayor, not Skye.

The last time I saw my daughter, she was slumped over from tiredness and needed a supportive hug but no food or drink. What a vastly different picture. Her grades will suffer. So will her health. How can I sleep now while she’s upstairs plugging away?

I am reminded of a story from when my lovely daughter was a little girl. On a playground in North Midland, some older boys were saying naughty things about a random girl that Skye had just met. That made her mad. She marched over to the boys hiding behind some trees and told them she didn’t appreciate their comments.

Those boys were bigger and stronger, but they stopped and listened.

This story from the distant past — when my girl couldn’t have been more than four or five — comes rushing at me as the perfect analogy. I’m sorry; I don’t mean to put too fine a point on it. The boys stopped and listened. My daughter has always been this way.

It’s not because she has family members and good friends who are gay. It’s not because she is working for a group of grown ups who put her up to this (as the mayor claims). It’s not because she wants any “fame” from this (name a college that actually wants a rabble rouser on their campus). It’s because somehow, somewhere her mom, her sister and I instilled an anger in her for what’s wrong in the world.

I apologize to her for that. Openly and honestly.

If she could have just let a comment slide, the way she’s let several others go, her math test later this morning may not kick her butt. Maybe she could sleep another hour or two instead of looking at me like I’m Voldemort when I suggest it.

But she couldn’t let something go. I’m to blame too. I mentioned it on facebook as well and the maelstrom began. Look at me, maelstrom, I’m using words like my daughter.

I’m leaving this note up on my computer screen, thinking she may glance at it between now and school. But I hope to sneak back upstairs and find her catching a few winks. And then, just for a moment, I’ll be reminded of the little girl who showed up nearly 18 years ago after a tumultuous birth. She stayed in the hospital for a few weeks afterward battling E. coli in her blood.

I guess she’s always been a fighter.

Hours later, while fixing eggs for breakfast, I feel a huge hug from behind. Tears rain down on my back as I’m told, “I’m happy you support me so much. And it makes me feel better that you don’t mind that I fail my math test.”

Sarcastic sigh, for right now, she’s my teen daughter again.

Sky King Rides Again

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January 4th, 2012

Solar array photo by Rodney Curtis If you happened to be glancing up at the sky in Westland yesterday and noticed a suspicious helicopter buzzing around in circles, don’t worry. It wasn’t a cop chopper searching for nefarious evil-doers. It was just a goofy photographer and a very lost pilot, using their iPhones, GPS and […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcSolarArray.jpgSolar array photo by Rodney Curtis

If you happened to be glancing up at the sky in Westland yesterday and noticed a suspicious helicopter buzzing around in circles, don’t worry. It wasn’t a cop chopper searching for nefarious evil-doers. It was just a goofy photographer and a very lost pilot, using their iPhones, GPS and the Metro Airport tower trying to find their way.

“Okay, there’s the Kmart; our target’s gotta be right across the street.”

I think we both uttered that phrase a couple times, the pilot and I. We were searching like crazy — as the gas was dwindling and the sun was setting — for a solar array that was supposed to be right there, like a blue light special. A quick phone call to my good buddy Ryan went something like this, “Dude, I can’t hear a thing you’re saying, but could you look up that address again and text it to me?”

Moments later, the proper address came through (the original was missing a digit) and we buzzed a few miles down Cherry Hill Road and snapped our subject.

Yes, after four paragraphs I should probably back up and start from the beginning. Ryan Wood and I formed part of a photo team up at the Midland Daily News that seriously rocked. Along with other great photogs through the years like Justin Rumbach, Elli Gurfinkel and Meegan Reid, we covered Midland County and got our little neck of the woods recognized nationally. Soon, each of us were dragged away from the tiny newspaper, lured by more fame and more fortune, but we’ve remained friends ever since. That’s enough of the beginning.

Ryan now works for an electrical contracting company, or so he says. I think it may be some sort of secret government consortium, but anyway. He needed photographs of different solar panel arrays around the Detroit area and asked if I could help him out. The best way to do it was from the air, so he called his pal Sky King here. Since I’m a geek about solar energy, I was happy to help him out.

I’ve ridden in helicopters before, one time delivering Robert Ballard’s first underwater photos of The Titanic to my newspaper out on Cape Cod. But this was the smallest craft I’ve ever flown in. Take a tight office chair, smoosh another one right next to it, bubble wrap them and there you have our flying machine. At one point I was teaching pilot Alan how to use his brand new iPhone, while balancing a GPS unit on my knee as he was listening to the tower and I was trying to keep my own phone and lenses from slipping to the “floor.” I was his navigator and spare eyes, spotting other aircraft, church steeples and an antenna farm. It was a blast!

I’m not sure exactly where these photos will be used, Ryan was a bit cagey on that detail. And if you see a big empty box on this page, you’ll know someone somehow redacted the images. But being up in the air, skirting rush hour traffic and whooshing from Waterford to Westland at 100 miles per hour was an incredible high.

We were safe and warm in the frigid January air. Life was tremendous and I felt a new perspective ripping through me. Then the following exchange took place:

“Hey, do you know what road that is?” asked pilot Alan as we flew past a major intersection.

“No man, sorry, I’m all turned around up here,” I answered.

“Me either,” he responded.

Well, I’ve always heard you have to take risks in life. It’s true, even if it means flying with a nice, funny pilot who’s not so good with directions.