Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Noon already and still sitting in my pajamas. Kind of like that Crash Test Dummies song. Got up in the dark and went over to the YMCA for aerobics. Later on talked to my Dad. Waiting for a call from substitute teacher callers on possible work assignment. This week we gotta dip into savings to keep the checking account balanced. It's time for me to return to work. We can't live on Esther's wages. Of course, I've already made more than $100 writing freelance for the Beloit Daily News, but that won't even pay the membership at the Y (a new expense at $104 a month for the next four months). I feel stupid for subscribing to the Rockford Register Star and joining the YMCA. I've quit eating out, but that doesn't that offset these new expenses. Still, I want to get in shape and keep up on local news. I can cut the paper, I guess, pay for the initial 13 weeks (at $29.95, BUY NOW) and then cancel.

That's my morning in a nutshell. A slave to economy, I cannot do anything that involves spending money until Friday. We've got food in the cupboard and heat coming out the registers, so I am not complaining. I've also got work to do. After this blog I must write two query letters to magazines and do at least 30 minutes of creative writing. Probably take an afternoon bike ride. The leaves are at peak color right now. I may even take my camera over to the Rockford Arboretum, where huge, ancient sugar maples grow, and take pictures this afternoon. I was given 16 rolls of 35-millimeter film last Christmas and have only used two. That's because Esther's got this cheapy point and shoot she takes to Walgreen's for processing and they replace the film for free. But I know the ins and outs of my Pentax ME Super SLR (single lens reflex) camera, got the filters, a 50mm fixed lense, 70-210mm adjustable zoom, backpacker's tripod (I want to get a standard size one) and cable release. It is a very basic set up.
All the equipment is used. But I've taken many good photos with it.

The camera was given to me by my cousin Jim, who bought it used in Germany when he was stationed there in the military. He told me he could never figure out how to get good pictures, so gave it to me. I bought an owners manual off E-bay and learned, by taking a test roll, that the camera's automatic light meter is a step off, so take all pictures at manual setting one step brighter than the meter recommends. The whole set-up, including lenses and tripods, cost me less than $200. And I've had it for more than six years. My next upgrade will be digital, but I'll always hold a fondness for my first SLR. I took a course in college and spent many hours with books and through trial and error to learn the tricks and complexities of an SLR. And while light theory and photo composition, etc., are universal, much of what I've learned is outdated in this digital age. Now I know how those math whizzes with their slide rules felt in the early 70s.

Across the alley neighbor and Brinks money counter ("I've got 12 cameras watching my every move at work") Steve is mowing his lawn. He is the example of everything that is wrong with western society. He is so focused on controlling every aspect of the mini-fiefdom of his yard, he had chain link fencing put up on the perimeter of his front yard. And he's getting ripped off by the chem lawn guy, who I've seen twice pull over in his truck and just walk to Steve's backyard and change a yellow tag. Less than a minute and he's gone. I don't complain. Don't want those pesti/herbicides in my breathing space. In the backyard is short wood fencing painted red. Why didn't he continue that theme? Although I know he and his wife, Hollie, are trapped in a psychic prison, the chain link makes their home a real one as well. Bushes bordering the alley are trimmed so much that many of them have died. Right now Steve is mowing the lawn and meticulously putting the clippings in a large paper bag. God forgive there should be any detritus on his lawn, or that anything should grow wild. I did point out to Esther recently that the bushes in his front yard have not been trimmed. An oversight? Or is Steve letting them grow so they block the view from the front window? In person, Steve and Holley seem like a nice couple, although Steve is a little socially awkward. Not bad. All appears normal. But I've seen him snap at his woman. She suffers in silence. I know the cameras are getting to him. And when he cracks I'm making sure I'm out of gun range. Because he may try to take a whole buncha people with him to hell.

Well, Alice Kay, Esther's Mom, will be here soon, and I got dishes to wash. Ta ta

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