March 31, 2008

darling Olivia

I love my kitty Olivia and wanted to put up these recent photos of her. Then I thought I'd include photos from other scenes of her 2 years so far.

I had never actually seen a cat stuck in a tree before! She's quite agile and adventures so I was surprised to see her in a place where she was afraid to move. Eventually my roommate played fireman and got her down.

My housemate had seen this little fawn dead by the side of the road and decided to bring her home to bury her. Olivia's reaction was incredible. She was curious yet reverent. She kept circling around it and reaching out for it, but never touched the corpse.

March 27, 2008

spring is beginning!

It's been freezing cold and sunny in the Berkshires during the last week—mixed seasonal signals. But, during my drive home from work yesterday I saw undeniable proof that the seasons are changing! The Stockbridge Bowl is melting and the geese were perched all along their mini, expanding ponds.

March 14, 2008

traditional photography in Connemara, Ireland

During my trip to Ireland I took about 1000 photos with my digital SLR. I also brought my beloved metal-body film camera (a canon AE-1 for all you photo nerds out there), just in case of . . . something, I wasn't sure what when I decided to bring it.

When my travel mate and I saw the baron landscape of the Dubh Loch Valley open up to this lake surrounded by mountains, I knew why. Something of the richness of the grays called for this traditional medium. I just developed these negatives in my bathtub last week to try and remember the atmosphere of this somber, majestic place.

"Dubh loch" in English means quite simply "dark lake."

To see some color photos from the trip visit the previous blog entry.

The coat on this sheep gives you a sense of the wind!

During the height of the famine, 600 Irish peasants gathered and crossed this valley to beg at the house of their British landlord. After being turned away in the winter, only 200 survived the trek back. It's believed that many of the remains have sunken into the lake. This monument, erected in 1994, commemorates the "hungry poor who walked here in 1849 and walk the third world today."

March 7, 2008


I just returned from a magical winter trip to the Emerald Isle. My friend Erin and I picked up our car from the airport and just started driving while chanting "stay to the Left because the Right will kill you." The guy at the rental company told us that we'd get a red car, "Red for Danger, so they can see you coming."

The wonderful thing about the natural beauty and history of Ireland is its accessibility. Natural wonders can just be as they are, unlike our approach to name it, fence it and then make you pay to be told about it. With the exception of the Cliffs of Moher, the beauties of Ireland I saw are there for the experiencing. The whole country felt like our misty Catholic playground.

The history, both recent and of centuries and millennia ago, is alive with all the people. They are neighbors of ancient huts and stone markers left from the Neolithic era. People are quite comfortable not understanding exactly what they were first built for, in fact there's a kind of respect in not demanding an explanation from the noble stones.

There wasn't much conversation about Catholicism, which kind of surprised me. But I suppose that the crumbling grandeur of church and abbey ruins—so common it verges on ubiquitous—speaks loudly enough.

More recent history is present over every cup of tea. It's not long into a chat with an Irishman that you'll start to feel the tragedy of the famine or the oppression of the occupation. I was told over and over how during the height of the famine, Ireland exported more grain than it had all century via England, while the farmers of Ireland starved. The Irish are so connected to their land, but they as a people have suffered so much to maintain that connection—bittersweet to say the least. They are quite generous in sharing the beauty of Ireland with visitors but it's clear to them that us Yanks and other foreigners will not ever live in the connection which they have earned.

Enough of me attempting to explain, here's a taste of what I saw in 7 days.

The Burren, Co Clare.

Ballintuber Abbey, which has been continuously holding mass since 1216.

Driving during dusk in Co Galway.

The Famine Memorial, to commemorate all those who died while trying to emigrate. Their ships became known as Coffin Ships because so many starved on the journey.

Croagh Patrick, just outside of Westport.

On the way up Croagh Patrick.

Stopping to feel the wind in the Dubh Loch Valley of Connemara.

Ancient "bee hive" hut.

On Slea Head, the Dingle Peninsula.

Tom Horgan reading a grave by abbey ruins in Waterville, Co Kerry.

Tea time.

Jackie on his farm with Davy and Pharaoh.

On the Ring of Kerry.

Above are selections from my digital photos on the trip. I also shot some black and white film in Connemara, which I’ve posted on it’s own.