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Mother and Sliders

081704-10am1200 The page Mother is a gallery of images of, well, you know who–Emily. When talking with my friend Roslyn last week, she mentioned that she was taking a new drawing class and asked me some questions about line drawing. I told her I had once done some drawings with pencils of  multi-colored lead. Also some with bright or florescent ink pens. I sent her a few lo-res files I had but was very unhappy with the scans. The color just did not pop as I thought it should. I took another look at the Photoshop files and  felt I could improve on them. I think I did.

I like these drawings. And it was a good chance to connect with mom. It will be ten years since she passed in June of 2005. That seems like a long time. But then… that is another blog post. I see the last drawings were done in January. I can feel her decline. Just looking at the images brings her and those moments back. They were all done in the Bethesda Homes for assisted living in Aberdeen. Drawing, water color and photography were a great way to pass the time with her in those last years. My sister and I alternated going to visit. I was driving to see mom on the morning of September 11, 2001.

This also gave me the opportunity to test sliders –the coding which makes fancy web slideshows– not New England sandwiches. First is Word Press Slider Plugin which I discovered while making some graphics for A Way to Garden. There are many slider plugins. Finding the best one will be an on going search. This one has many features my previous plugin did not. Coding the page to be responsive has been successful so far and given me a good test for managing retina images. I will post updates here as I explore other changes.

UPDATE: 01.29.15 Checking with WPMU, I found Meta Slider has great ratings. I will take it for a test.

Return to Geddes, SD

me mom cornBennett-sisters600My mother grew up with four sisters and a brother on a farm near Geddes, South Dakota. We spent many holidays and vacations on that farm with Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Lois, Uncle Mel and cousin Wally. Aunt Mary and Uncle Albert lived nine miles north in Geddes. Their daughter, cousin Betty and her husband, Babe, are there now. I had not been back since my mother’s funeral in 2005. I should say, I had not been back physically because my memories take me back quite often. America in the 1950’s was a very special time. Childhood makes everything rosier. My rosy memories were not milking cows, collecting eggs, riding horses to count cattle, opening gates or pitching hay. I was not cut out to be a farmer. My cousin Wally was. He and his son Jay, still run the family farm, aka “The Farm.”

ruby-wally600thefarm-bybessie600What is special about The Farm, aside from the people, is the place. It is very productive farm land that becomes more rolling as you near the Missouri River. The farm is about five miles from the river, where we fished, swam, boated and where I learned to water ski. In South Dakota you really experience nature (yes, hunting) and the seasons. When growing up there, that all seemed inevitable, but now that I have lived in a New York City apartment for thirty years, I know it is not.

My mother’s generation is all gone. I am the youngest of my cousins. In the spring, Ruby–the wife of my cousin Wally–was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was a shock. She was in her 70’s, but this was much too soon. Ruby was so vibrant. She made this world a better place.

It was time to return. I wanted to see everyone again and see how the place that loomed so large in my memories had changed or remained as I remembered.

When I was in college, I had learned that the time to visit was over Memorial Day weekend. Geddes, like most small towns, continues to come together on this holiday and honor those who have served in the U. S. military. It is a tradition that just doesn’t exist in larger towns. I have done this about four times. Families gather. The women provide food at the school or community center. People return, like myself, from all over America. It is very Norman Rockwell. Lots of memories. Or as we say in SoDak, a great time to “swap lies.”

Unexpectedly, the best part of this trip was meeting the next generation–my cousins’ children, grandchildren and their families. I have the skeptical eye of one from Gotham, but I feel a real connection to this place and these people. It might be that everyone has those feelings about their childhood home and roots, but that is grist for another blog post.

I didn’t do any drawing. I took photos and video. I have been using my iPod Touch for making photos and video. It is a style I want to develop. Fast and impromptu. I wouldn’t say this has been all that successful. The time was so short– four days. And connecting with my family was more important. But I do want to share and express it. But how?

This page using  Flickr Albums is my first solution. This is because you can embed both photo and video in the Flickr albums. But I don’t think this solution will stick. Check back. I will post notice here of my other attempts.

 

Magazine Writing and Design

Last Thursday, May 15, I visited Jamie Malanowski‘s Marymount Manhattan class Writing for Magazines. Jamie was my editor in the Notebook section of Time magazine for two years and he asked me to share my ideas (and war stories) about the relationship between designer, editor and writer. I had never done this before, nor had I heard of any design peers talking to editorial journalism classes. It is a great topic and shows (once again) Jamie’s originality and insight.

I talked about the shared goals and  the dynamics of the art director/editor relationship. There was good discussion about using design, photography and illustration to make the page inviting, engage the reader and maximize the impact of the article.

thinking-with-type-ellen-lupton-paperback-cover-artOne reason I am posting now is to add some thoughts I had about this subject, post class discussion . One book I thought the class might want to look at is Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students, by Ellen Lupton (Princeton Architectural Press, 2004).

Another is The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. This might be of less practical interest to writers but as it is a typographic bible, written by a poet-turned-designer, I am mentioning here. I learned a lot from his thoughtful approach to reading words and how they should be used on a “page.” His basis is the spoken word. Now there is also The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web.

I wish I had asked how many in the class have blogs? Besides the obvious educational benefits to them as magazine writers, I think this is a perfect opportunity for them to deal with their words and design.

I also believe they should all be photographers and even know how to shoot video. That would have been a lively discussion.

This is a good place for me to archive links to relevant topics about magazines and journalism. I will start with these:

Bill Moyers: Buying the War
Bill Moyers: Stopping the Presses; David Simon
NYTimes: Online Publisher scribd.com

Keepin’ it Real

I have a lot to learn about WordPress. I may use blog and WordPress (WP) interchangeably because WordPress is the OpenSource blog software that I am using. I first put it on Kurt Andersen’s site and then Jamie Malanowski’s. But when Margaret Roach asked me to make three blogs for her, I knew I would be scaling the learning curve. Fortunately Margaret has done her homework and has a network of friends who are also into WP.

I put a blog here about four years ago using Blogger, the software that is now distributed by Google. But this week I finally loaded WP to use this a place to write about my commercial work and share my web learning experience. And right now that is about blogging.

My goal is to set up sites for clients that they can control the content from their computer. I have been doing that by using Adobe Contribute software. But I think WordPress will prove to be a worthy content management system (CMS).

Funny Title Goes Here

Lumpen PortraitsInstead of dummy copy, I will write here that we are now in the Eliot Spitzer downfall news cycle. So much buzz. Yesterday was the zenith. Or at least I assume it was. Today I want to know more about the high priced hooker. To me, this is all playing out like something from Law and Order.

What will be the tag line for the Spitzer Downfall? It needs a title or a Seinfeld catagory, because this has strangers talking to each other in Manhattan. Each year there are only one or two events that reach that level of buzz. Today I was in the hardware store looking for some halogen bulbs when I heard the manager answer the phone, “Eliot Spitzer’s office, he can’t come to the phone right now.” All three customers started laughing and shared their opinions as they checked out. It was the manager’s opinion that since his mother-in-law had forgiven him, he didn’t need to resign. I agreed.

Hello world!

 

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NOTE This is a Thumbnail with a caption. It wraps fine in the WP Visual Mode but note in the HTML Mode where the body text starts after the /close caption tag. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. orem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

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This is a Thumbnail with a caption. It wraps fine in the WP Visual Mode but note in the HTML Mode where the body text starts after the /close caption tag. The margin on the right is formated by WP not in the Advanced Image Settings: no horizontal pixels added. Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging! Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.