How to score big time Brownie Points with your Mom for the next occasion

I did these collages last year in cooperation with several family members to make laminated place-mats for my mom for Christmas. We secretly collected about 750 photos from various eras and collections and I whittled them down to about 240 to use for this project. Collecting and then thinning them down was the hardest part! I picked 240 as the target by figuring I needed 10 per side, 2 sides per placemat and 12 placemats in total at the end. I might have been able to use all the photos,but they would have been postage stamp size and lost their impacts.

I made a collection in Lightroom of the winning photos.  Then, in the Lightroom print section,  I created a template of ten photos in a 11×17 layout as that was the maximum size that Staples could laminate in the store. Once the template was made, I used the slide strip function in the print mode to pick photos at random from the collection of 240 and dragged them one by one into the template. After I dragged each one, I marked it with a purple flag to denote that I had used that photo already. I considered just trying to do collages with say, my mom and dad as the focal point on one and some family member on another, but I decided to do random over the about 70 years worth of photos to make it more fun to look at and share before and after family dinners at moms or really when we’re just hanging out there. The kitchen is kind of the focal point in our family, as it is in many. Once the ten photos were in place, I printed the file to a jpg file (300 dpi) in a folder on my desktop.  About half way through the 24 collages, I created a new template that was slightly different so they wouldn’t all look alike.

There were a few gaps in some of the images I created because I ended up tweaking some of the layouts to match the photos. Like the proverbial wall paper job that no one else notices the errors on, I’m pretty sure no one else in the family noticed. All in all, it took a ton of time to collect and then narrow down the photos, but the actual file creation, once selected was maybe 2 hours or so? 

The following day I took the files on a flash drive to the local Staples store and a very helpful young lady helped us out. She suggested we print 12 prints front and back instead of my original idea to print 24 and try to line them up. She told us the next day that she ended up having to create PDF files for it to work, but they came out great! I suppose I could try to figure out how to make the pdfs to make it easier for the printing expert, and maybe I will next time.  She had them ready the next day and the cost was like $60 for 12 celebrations of memory that are going to last a long time! A bargain!

Give it a go if you have Lightroom. If not, maybe I can help you out?


A poem I did

I heard about a site that offers prompts and encourages folks to write a poem in response to it. The prompt I responded to was a photo of a ladies hair brush with lots of hair in it. The brush was sitting on some rich looking fabric.

I’m not sure if this is really a poem. Maybe more a story, but it hits me in the feels, even though I wrote it…

Like many redheads, she was a force to be reckoned with.

I never tried to tame her. Even If I could have, why would I want to?

She said it was why she married me over the handsomer, richer ones around her.

The one thing that came close to taming her broke me.

She used to sit in this chair in the morning sun, her hair aglow in that light as she stroked it with the brush. She would tilt her head just so, with her eyes closed, and bring the brush through, one hundred slow strokes every morning. It reminded me of a lioness in the wild. She never tamed the curls.

She pretended not to notice me when I watched her.

The first clue was when too much hair was in the brush each morning.

Near the end, when there was nothing left to brush, she casually tossed the brush into the trashcan by the bathroom sink.  “I guess I won’t need this anymore”.

I retrieved it later.

Puzzled, she saw it. Picked it up. Looked at me, looked at it, raised her eyebrow, sadly smiled, and set it back down.

New Post at my project against Domestic Violence, and, the straight guy did what?

It’s been too long since I’ve posted here! The last post was about my Domestic Violence project and the show at the Dover Art League. I just posted a new post on that site. I admired this survivor’s courage and grace. She’s been through the wringer in ways that would break most. It hasn’t been all nice and pretty like a Lifetime movie, but she’s kept going.

This last weekend I set up another show with Natasha down at CAMP Rehoboth in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. The show was in conjunction with the play “Stop Kiss“. I was so moved by the work they’re doing at CAMP Rehoboth that I joined them.  Yeah, the middle-aged (well if middle is half of 112!) straight white guy became a member of an LGBT advocacy group. They’re doing great work. They’re open, kind, inclusive and caring.

I didn’t really see the connection until now, but both actions are part of me saying “enough is enough”.  I started the Domestic Violence project when I had to do something after finding out how bad it is out there for women. There’s a legitimate fear in the LGBT community that things are going to backslide for their basic human rights. I was told this weekend at the show about some outright gay bashing that just disgusted me. I don’t get it.  I can’t stand by and do nothing in that arena either.  I doubt I’ll be marching around in a leather thong in a pride parade (no one wants to see me like that!) but, Hell yeah, I’ll stand up and say “no more” and “fix this”. 

I usually don’t talk about the things I’ve given too, or people I’ve helped. I think it’s unseemly to do so. I’ve supported individuals behind the scenes because doing it publicly makes it seem like I’m doing it for my benefit, not theirs. (hey everyone, look how awesome I am…) Usually, the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing… but in the Domestic Violence and LGBT arena, it’s important that old white guys, who might not have a dog in the fight, stand up for others.

I do have a dog in this fight though. I have friends and family in the LGBT community (no, some of my best friends aren’t gay… ) and I know way to many women (and men!) that have suffered from domestic violence. And as Martin Luther King Jr said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The truth is, I’m a little concerned about advocating poorly, saying something grossly white male priveleged, or ineffectively, but, I can’t just do nothing.  I hope others will join me, work against Domestic Violence, and go join CAMP Rehoboth!

It's Emotional. It's Personal