Monday, July 23, 2007


Metabolic Metaphysics

Wolfy in an easy trot at heel,
I maintained my pace up the hill
and realized how often I’d been slowing
to a stroll recently. Our turning point,
the big, low rock embedded
in the dirt road, felt reassuringly firm
and smooth under my foot, but
at that moment a vascular twinge
under my left upper arm unsettled me.

“Okay,” I said aloud to Wolfy and the weeds
lining the road, “I have to get serious now.
More exercise, more consistent exercise,
and I need to lower my triglycerides again,
so that means a crackdown on the carbs.”
I thought about the implications of that,
and my step slowed, weighed down
with diet dread. Wolfy squatted, and I stopped,
assessing the massive tree in front of me.
The trunk didn’t have an ounce of fat on it.

A good, responsible tree isn’t burdened by gluttony
or guilt. Its leaves make sufficient food—no more,
no less. It takes what it needs—not what it craves—
from the soil. Sap flows at the appointed time,
unimpeded by lipids, plaque, or clots. A maple will
never need a sapwood bypass operation.

“So no more dipping into the cherries for me,”
I said to the tree, sighing. “And I suppose
I’ll have to eliminate apricots. Or maybe I should
give up dried fruit entirely, what do you think?”
I waited for some sort of response—a shadow
passing across the bark, perhaps, or a leaf
drifting slowly to the ground—but it was clear
the tree came from a different place.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Who's taking *your* picture?

I think it's wonderful that digital cameras have turned so many people into photographers. Point-and-shoot 35mm cameras were around for decades, but it seemed as though most people weren't too picky about the quality of the shots. I hope all the sharing that goes on with digital pictures has made folks more aware of stuff like focus.

When I was a child, we lived in an apartment building in NYC. My dad, whose hobby was photography, was everyone's family photographer. Today, my childhood friends are grateful to have beautiful b&w images of their parents and themselves that never would have happened without my father and his Leica and Speed Graphic and his darkroom.

I'm grateful that I have them, too. And I'm equally grateful that I took so many pictures of my own children. What if my collection of pictures of Gillian consisted of some posed portraits from K-Mart and a few blurry snapshots taken at the beach?

Anyway, my point of all this is that someday your family will be grateful to have pictures of you. If you are the family photographer, they may have a hard time finding them. I've been making a long-term project of putting photos in albums, and after album #5 or so I realized that judging from the photographs one might suspect my children were raised by dogs and cats, with occasional visits from their father. I wish I'd taken more pictures of him, and I wish somebody had taken pictures of me.

So this is to encourage you to a) learn how to use the timer on your camera (this results in a much more flattering picture than holding your camera out at arm's length and hoping for the best), and b) not to be shy about asking people to take your picture. They won't mind. Don't stand stiffly with your kids, shoulder to shoulder. Grab them in a group hug. Or pull them down on a sofa with you. Don't worry about being photogenic. Let them be silly. You want natural grins. Someday, they'll want to remember you just the way you are.