Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Ramblings of an Aging Photo Enthusiast - Vol.I / (Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Primes)

 Oh, look. He's writing again.

I'm going to talk about cameras and lenses today. Yes, again.  Nerd Alert!!!

I spent a few bucks along the way on good camera bodies. I try to NOT own the entry-level cameras because for a little more money, I can get an older, more capable one. My "Canon Body Adventure" went like this: Rebel XT, 40D, 7D, 5D, 5D MkII. I'm not sure the 5D was actually an upgrade from the 7D, but that's how I saw it then.  Now, as ANY photographer will tell you, it's not about the camera so much as it is about the glass, but we're not talking a TON of money invested in these bodies. They were all old and all used and all far below book value (of you know me, you know I like a bargain.) amd they were all well-respected bodies for one reason or another...But the lenses - THAT'S where I get my ass kicked. 

You see, ANY new consumer-grade body come with a couple lenses. These are usually something like an   18-55 and a 50-200 or so. Higher end cameras might not, but you can still get a kit lens.  And then it starts. Primes, Upgrades, and Superzooms, oh my! We're told "When you outgrow your kit lens..." over and over and over by the same group of people who might recommend "only use one focal length for a year so you can master it" or some similar guidance. I've seen YouTube videos that show you how to take gorgeous night sky photos "with your kit lens!"  It's all very confusing and helps lead to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)

But we learn some things, right? Things like: Good lenses can cost more than the cameras we buy. All-in-one zooms (superzooms, vacation zooms, whatever you call them) are usually more affordable, but are generally a major compromise in image quality. A zoom is worth a handful of primes. Yaddah yaddah yaddah...

Here's where I'm headed with this: 

I have a fair number of zoom lenses that tend to cover a lot of the same range. I've learned that a couple primes in my bag mean a lot more to me than a bunch of random overlapping zooms. For my Canons, I've got a Tokina 19-35 f3.5-4.5 & 28-70 f2.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L, 80-200 f2.8 L, and a 70-300 f4-5.6. In addition, I've got a Yongnuo 35mm f2 & 50mm f1.8, Canon 50 f1.8STM, and a Rokinon 14mm f2.8...not to mention the adapted Zeiss Jena 50mm f2.8.  Any idea what typically lives on my 5dII these days? The Canon 50.    

It's crazy.  On my other camera bodies, I seem to have the same kind of thing going on. My Fuji X-E2? Fuji 27mm. My Pentax K3? That damned 35mm DA (although I'm trying to love the 21 mm I just got... sigh)...And my EOS-M5? The freaking little 22mm!  I just got another GF-1 for work... and it's got an Olympus 14-42EZ because that is the only lens I really have for it. But don't think I didn't consider grabbing that little 20mm Panny...because I considered it SO much!  

With all the glass I own, I'm falling back to something that is right around 50mm equivalent in almost every case. 50.  The most BORING focal length ever (or so I'm told by the internet) But I do love it. And I'm going to keep doing it as long as I want - because it's MY art, damn it. Give me my primes, TYVM.

I might really try to post a single image a week this year. If I do, let's come back in June and see how what my most popular focal length is, shall we? It might be interesting.

For now - Happy New Year. I hope you have a better 2021. 

This, of course, was taken with my 24-105 L lens at India Point Park in Providence, RI.

Not a Prime.  ;)

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Wondering Where to Wander


Here we are again. Another year winding down. Another year I committed to writing more, to doing things differently, and another year where I find myself looking back and wondering where the hell it all went .

Today, let's talk about hobbies, shall we? 

I have a lot of hobbies - these days I find myself obsessing about Photography and cameras, about my growing Ukulele collection, and about woodworking.  This year found me doing far more things around the house (Thanks, COVID) and trying to make the time to get all the stuff I wanted to do actually done.  If you know me, you know I have a passion for many things, and I wonder if I actually spread myself a little thin when it comes to what I want to accomplish.  I've invested in not on, not two, not even three - but FOUR camera systems. I've got a big old Canon 5D MKII (and I still have my older Canon 5D Classic, too) as well as a EOS-M5 mirrorless rig. I've got a pair of Fuji's (X-E2 and an X-T1), THREE Pentax cameras as well.  That started with a pair of Pentax lenses I bought off Craigslist with the intention of trading them, but the seller included the broken K30 along with the lenses, and it suffered form a non-working aperture solenoid. When I discovered that it was a pretty straightforward repair, I broke the camera open and fixed it. Using that camera, and realizing I hated the ergonomics led to the purchase of first a K5IIs, then a K3. I added a bunch of manual lenses, then a few less manual ones. I also reinvested in a Panasonic GF-1 beacuse I traded mine for the Canon 5D and miss it.  I got that to bring to work for macro shots using a macro lens I still had laying around. In addition, I had my old Canon AE-1P CLA'd and got another AE-1 for shits and giggles. Those are both film cameras if you didn't know.  I've taken some pretty decent pics with all of them, and each brings a different approach to my photographic game. The big Canons give me full-frame images that are spectacular, the Fuji's are Kings of the JPGs right out of camera, and the Pentax cameras all get me the ability to take very long sky exposures using the SkyTracer function.  

I won't mention the triplet of different point and shoots I've got in the pile because they were really inexpensive and added to the arsenal. I invested in a laptop that could actually drive my Lightroom needs, and added a 27" monitor so I could get some real work done on my pictures. As I said,  I like my camera gear. 

In addition, I've grown my Uke collection over the past year. Where I once had a Lanakai soprano and a Kala archtop tenor, I've added a Gretsch resonator, an Oscar Schmidt tenor, a Fender tenor, and a Vorson solid body strat-style.  I actually play them all. 

What else is there, though? How else do I spend my time? I bought a table saw worth using, and have plans to make my own frames. COVID made getting appropriately sized frames difficult, especially larger ones, so I'm going to try my hand at making my own - which means I'll need to make a crosscut miter sled, which means I'll need to spend a little more time there. 

And let's not forget my minor interest in Gaming...Jedi Fallen Order was a downright blast to finish, but then there's the board games and, well, D&D. I'd play more if I just could find the time to invest there as well. 

More time. 

That's the challenge for all of us, isn't it? Where to find the time to carve out and get to doing all the things we want to do. Between work, and the Have-To's we all have the same challenges - "finding the time"... So where does that time come from? Lately, my mood hasn't been all that great. The year in isolation has made travel impossible. Yes, I went to Chicago in February, but that has pretty much been it. I've gone for the same walks so many times that I no longer want to go. I've been to the same places so many times that they are no longer interesting. I miss travel - one of the main reasons I dove so deeply into photography was to take great images of the places I've been.  So what now? What do we do when we can't travel? What did I do before that particular bug bit into me and infected me with a lust for seeing the world? 

Simply put - I don't know.

But I'd like to find out because I need to.  I need to see the wonder in the familiar things, and I need to keep pushing that shutter button. 

Plus, I haven't written a goddamned thing since last year. That, to me, is a shame. But I managed to kick my Facebook habit this year. I keep the page because I don't feel the need to delete it, but I'm not spending much time there at all. THAT was a really good thing for me, I think. (And if you haven't seen it, watch Netflix's "The Social Dilemma" it's amazing)

So here it is. Hopefully, not the last for the year. Hopefully my Muse gets off her ass and decides that I need to get the words out. 

I'll try to see you all before the end of the year.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Through the Looking Glass


What a year, huh?

So many people I know are saying that it was a hard year, and I cannot disagree. It was on many levels one of the hardest years for me in a long time. If it was for you as well, you have my heart.

But in many ways, it was an amazing year, as well. A year of growth, and a year of changes. It was the year where I discovered The Isle of Skye, and I saw Philly and NYC again.  I had some pretty cool adventures, too. I invested in a really nice camera (okay, two) and committed to taking better, more intentional pictures. I printed some of my stuff and hung it on the walls of my homes, even. I bought my very first new car- not new to me, but brand new! I'm never going to drive junk again, no matter how much I love it. I may buy an old car to play with, but not as a daily driver.  Also, I came to terms with some things that were always important, but never really made important in my life.

Things often went in funny directions, but there's always something to learn.

So now I sit here in an empty house, typing for myself and committing to blogging more in 2020. I will find people to challenge as well - do YOU want to write more? We all should, I think.
Maybe I'll actually do a photo blog as well, I'm not sure about that yet, but I think I'd like to.  Maybe I'll bring back Three Photo Friday on my Facebook feed - it was a good idea that never really got much traction because I didn't make it important enough. Maybe I'll finish The Dream of the Raven's Gate this year, or start a new character, or give Angus some love. Who knows?

But I know that the people in my life are really important to me. And I intend to keep loving them as I always have - with all of me.  I know that the person I am is going to grow and evolve and find new ways of being a better me. I'm worth it.  A long time ago, I was involved with a discussion about what you would tell younger you at any point in your life. It was a really great discussion (as they all were), and I believe that the advice I decided on then is the same I'd give now: We are all the same inside.
Every one of us feels the same things, I know that sounds a little hard to believe, but I do.  Every one of us has felt set aside, or nervous, or disappointed. We've all felt like the fake in the room at some point, or the last person YOU would want to hang out with. We've felt like we've fucked up BAD, or made the wrong choice, or made the right choice at the wrong time. We've felt awkward, too. But knowing that the coolest person you know has felt like an ass makes that person even cooler, doesn't it? More human?  Yeah - it does. At least to me.

As your friend and mine Mr. John Hughes made enormously famous:

"You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out, is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basketcase, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club."

I'm here with you - all of you. A photographer, an artist, a writer, a blacksmith, a basket case, an otaku, a nerd, a gamer, a runner, a mechanic, a parent and a child, a grandfather, and a criminal. I'm here with all of you, whoever you are.

I wish you all a happy new year 2020. I wish you all the best and brightest.


Friday, December 13, 2019

The Last Love Letter: Goodnight Starlight


If I had a T.A.R.D.I.S.what would I do? Would we go back again and again as we spoke so often about? Would we live our lifetimes over and over together in the chaos of the infinite universe? Would we just open the door and step out into places we made up together in our imagination?

I would not, however, go back in time and change what happened, even if it was "for the better". If I did that, it would change what we DID have. It would change the laughter and the love and the tears we shared. It would remove the memories I carry now and replace them with something that wasn't us. And I look back on our life too fondly to let that happen.  Instead, I'll sit with the hurt and the sorrow right now, and I will be brave and hopeful for whatever comes next between us. I'll go visit the secret library we built. I'll step quietly down the stairs into the basement, holding my breath so as to not wake my monsters, and cast the lamplight upon the volumes we have written during the life we lived as one. 

There's that story over there where we learned about how to share space, and here's where we cried over what wasn't way back when. Oh, and then there's "The Treehouse Stories"... always good for warm tears and sad smiles.  We have Calvin and Hobbes, and all those miles under our feet both together and apart. We have dreams we pieced back together after they were broken. We have collections called "Two Drunks in the Big Apple" and  "Dancing in the Park". So many others. All good stories to share, or to keep secret. All of Us.

So many little moments together. None of which deserve to be shattered or burned or thrown away. Each one, even if it is just a line or two, deserves to be read aloud in the darkness and cherished for what it is -  a piece of the larger story that we wrote over the course of what was "Us". 

I loved you then, and I love you still. I will sift through the picture books and collages we made in our life together and I'll cry a little here and there, as well as laugh out loud at the funny ones. I'll remember all the goddamned miles I drove to come home to you, happily. I'll see your smiling face and hold fast to the good times, and the bad. Both are deserving of respect in the bigger picture. We were a pretty good Us. 

So, as we need to write our new chapters, I'll send this letter off into the world hoping for a brighter tomorrow,  and say...

Goodnight Starlight, 
I'll see you in the sunshine. 

Love, Poet.

For I am alone in the dark, surrounded by OUR life
Dreaming under the sky of your eyes

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Me and Bruce

Let's start with my loathing of Bruce Springsteen, shall we?

"I've got a '69 Chevy with a 396
Fuelly heads and a Hurst on the floor"
                                          -Racing in the Street

No, Bruce, you didn't. And either none of the people involved with the album didn't even like or respect you enough to tell you, or you simply insisted that it was going on the album like that.
Either way, you didn't ever have one of those. At least not in that combination.

I heard these lyrics in, oh, 1983 or 1984, 5 or 6 years after it came out. I eventually discovered the truth about the engine block/head combination impossibility and that ended my relationship with the man. Just. Like. That. Eventually, the "Born in the USA" single hit and if there was ANY love inside me at all for the man, it died with that song.

Let's fast-forward to Summer of 2016.  A woman who would become my partner professed her love for all things Bruce. It was one of the truly heart-breaking moments of our relationship, but we agreed to accept each other's faults (hers, for loving Bruce "her first boyfriend" ... me, for loving a woman who loved Bruce like that). We would find opportunity to banter on the subject, teasing each other about our respective positions. She hinted at dragging me to a concert, and I suggested she find someone else to take. It went like that a lot.

Until today.

I listened to this interview:

His emotional awareness and candor in the interview betray my view of the man called "The Boss". I  listened to him tell a story about his aging father dragged from a schoolyard fight by his grandmother (a woman who also had a hand in raising Bruce) and point out that his dad was most upset because "I was winning, Bruce. I was winning..." He talked of how he understood that his grandmother went to get her only living child from that fight because he was too precious to lose.  He spoke of how his wife saved his kids from his wanting to protect them from any time in the public eye. I listened to the man I couldn't stand for all of my adult life become a human being - a fellow traveler on the planet we share.

I thought of all the times I denounced his songwriting and his musical style. I thought of all the songs I never listened to. And as I sift though my new feelings for the man, I wonder to myself,"What else am I wrong about?"

I'm not wrong about that motor, but I can forgive one lyric in a career of artistic expression?
Yes, I can.
What can YOU forgive, my friends?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sugar and Spice


Diane watched it happen for the second time.
It was real.
Death was real.
Not in the sense that death was a real event, but rather that Death was a real character. A "person" of substance
And there he was again.
Closing the door behind him nonchalantly, and with a calm demeanor, he barely glanced in any direction. He just closed the door. Then he would not leave through it again, at least not that she'd seen yet. Diane waited at the counter, watching the function room doors. She didn't think Death was on the guest list for the party.
There was a scream and a large, red-faced woman screamed "CALL NINE ELEVEN!!"
Yep. That's Death. And he was damned cute.


The mail carrier smiled when she gave him the cookie. "Thanks!" he said, "But I watch the sweets. Diabetes, you know!"
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize... " the woman apologized. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Sure thing, Ms. Preston."
Smiling, the mail carrier slid into his van and began fussing with his clipboard. He wasn't paying attention when she appeared suddenly in the open door and jabbed him with the needle in the thigh.  He was stunned, and yelled at her to move away from the van. She grabbed his keys off the dashboard and ran inside, careful that nobody had been present on the deserted street. The postman wasn't feeling so good, but he was going to get to the bottom if this. He reached into his shirt pocket for his phone, but realized that she must have grabbed it when she got the keys. He made his way up the stairs to the house again and knocked.
"Lady, you're in a world of trouble. I called the cops and you're really screwed. They'll be here any minute." he called through the door. The street was empty, as always. He knew this route well enough, and if he could get his keys, he wasn't more than 8 or 10 minutes to the next house in the run. How far a walk, though... that was the question. And what did she stick him with? He knew it was a needle, he'd given himself enough insulin to know that... but what did she use? Could he walk that far? He began to feel worse. He thought about his glucose level... he'd felt like this before when his sugar was really high. Was his meter in the van? He didn't remember if he'd taken his bag from the locker this morning. He started down the steps and felt the world shift a little. he sat down and rubbed his eyes. "Shit. This sucks." He heard a car coming down the street, and stood up. It was unfamiliar. It pulled up behind his van, stopped running, and the driver stepped out. He was a good-looking young man in a black suit. He pushed his sunglasses onto his head and squinted.
"Charlie? You okay?" He asked.
"How do you know me? And NO I"M FUCKING NOT OKAY, OKAY?" the mailman sat back down and slumped forward.
"I know. But you're gonna be coming with me. It's all good. You'll see." Death grinned as he approached. "You weren't on my schedule, man. What happened?"
"What are you talking about? Who ARE you?" there was a haze starting to fall over the mailman's mind. "I really need some help, whoever you are. Can you take me to the hospital?"
"I'll take you wherever you want to go in a few minutes. What happened?" Death asked.
"This woman... she stuck... me the leg with some..." The mailman made a little gurgle and drooled onto the steps.
"Woman, huh?" Death asked. He looked at the house and squinted.

She watched from the window as Death, dressed in his sexy black suit and shiny leather shoes, approached the mailman on the steps. They were having  a conversation of some kind, then they stopped and Death looked at the house.
"Goddamn is he beautiful" she whispered to herself while she watched him stare at the house. She closed her eyes, leaned against the door and masturbated in the stillness of the otherwise empty house to the thoughts of Death touching her anywhere he wanted. "Oh, you beautiful thing" she whispered as she finished. She thought of all the ways she'd read in fantasy novels about how to capture an unearthly being. She was pretty sure that she'd read something from Neil Gaiman about it, but she wasn't positive. "How do I catch him? How do I keep him as my own?"

Death looked at his watch. He'd been there for almost 20 minutes already. He looked up at the mailman and asked, "You going to finish this anytime soon?"
"Finish what?" the mailman asked, standing and staring blankly at Death. "And who the fuck ARE you, anyway?"
"Oh, good. About time. Let's go." Death said impatiently as he headed for the car. He gestured, "Come on. Charlie. It's not that hard. Get in."
"With you?" the mailman asked, looking down at his slumped-over body.
"Great," Death shook his head, "Another fucking dummy."

Diane began drawing Death. She drew him from memory, and she produced sketch after sketch, some nearly life-sized. She collected stories from the internet, printing them out and pinning them on to her living room wall. Her obsession grew.

Her contact was entirely correct...Insulin OD was the perfect murder weapon for the killer in her "story". The police didn't even give her a second look, and the paramedics carted the dead mailman off the steps less than an hour after she called them. There was an apology from the post office in way of a card and some free postage. She responded to the Postmaster's letter via email, didn't notice that autocorrect made sure she was offering her 'condiments' to his family. She snorted when she saw that. Condiments. Just in case they wanted a little mustard with that dead Uncle? Ridiculous.
Diane took her backpack and locked the front door behind her. It had been two weeks since she saw Death. She missed his face and would do almost anything to see  him again. She was so in love with that creature - she HAD to know more about him.  She'd been reading all about the relationship different cultures had with Death, and had no real explanation for his appearance, actions, or seemingly magnanimous nature.  To be honest, she told herself, she really had no idea if he was magnanimous or not, but the word looked great when she wrote it down in the "Death Journal" she'd been keeping.

Diane was more than ready for another date with Death.

The bus terminal was almost empty, but a brief conversation gleaned her a short ride with a nice woman who  got her within walking distance of the apartment she'd rented. "Oh, this is great, right here is fine" Diane pointed at the curb adjacent an emissions test station. The car pulled over. Diane got out and leaned back in, never taking off her hat or sunglasses "Thanks so much. My sister is going to be so excited to see me. I want it to be a surprise!"
The two women parted ways as women often do, and Diane wheeled her suitcase up the block after she'd waited until she was certain the woman was gone. It was only a few blocks, and Diane was very eager to get on with the day.

The rental apartment was nice enough, and Diane was able to remain mostly anonymous by using a pre-paid visa debit card she'd purchased on craigslist. She dropped her bags and transformed herself. a wig, contacts, and makeup offered a new woman in the mirror. Underneath, though, it was the same old Diane - ready and willing to do anything to get herself alone with that gorgeous hunk of man. She was careful about not leaving hairs around. She'd used a lint roller over and over in order to recover as much hair as possible. She'd taped the handles and knobs after wiping them,

Alex was an easy hit. He was, according to his Craigslist posting, "a recovering alcoholic looking for a second chance at love." Fifteen minutes after they met at the bar, he was on his third Vodka tonic. An hour after meeting him, he was on number five . They returned to the apartment. Diane kissed him at the door, they wrapped around each other and spun into the room, passion welling up between them. They chased each other into the bedroom, kissing and groping the whole time. She unbuttoned his shirt, pushing him onto the bed and straddling him. He smiled up at her, sweating and red-faced. He slurred an "Oh, baby" at her in his light brogue, and she pushed against him. "Wait here" she said.

Diane returned to the bed, the man now nearly naked. "I've got something for you..." and she pulled the needle from her shirt pocket. The man looked at her drunkenly...questioningly. She leaned in and kissed him again "This won't hurt, baby" and she slipped the needle into the meat of his arm. She kissed him over and over, her hands covering his flesh. He didn't even seem to mind the needle.

He went quiet, and she sat up in the chair, ready for her date.

Death opened the door and entered the room.
Diane went giddy.
Death looked around as the man suddenly jumped up and was surprised to see Death standing there.
"Who are you?" he asked Death. "Diane, What the fuck?" Diane looked at Death longingly. Death barely noticed her.

"Listen dummy,"Death said, "I've got a car waitng outside. You can't miss it. Go get in and I'll be right out."

"Oh. She called me a Lyft? Cool" He got up and went out,never noticing his dead body lying on the bed.

"Dummy." Death breathed. He looked at Diane. She looked back, swooning.  "You can see me, can't you?" he asked, folding his arms and leaning on the door jamb. "I'll be damned."

"I do. Fuck you're sexy. Can I kiss you?" Diane asked, standing up and unbuttoning her blouse. "I could do more if you let me..." she said, biting her lip seductively.

"You can see me. That's strange, you know? And no, you can't kiss me. Put those away." Death gestured at her bare breasts.

Diane sat in a huff."Come on, you. I want you so bad right now. I'm crazy about you."

"Crazy. I bet."

"Stop. I can't stop thinking about you. I have been planning this for so long..." She stared at him.

"The mailman, right? That was you in the house?"

"Yes. It was me." she smiled and beamed a little. "Pretty good, right?"

"If you say so.  I'm leaving. Dead people attract attention. Especially when you are around for more than one. Get my drift?"

"Don't worry, handsome. I'm clear. I want you."

"That's a little odd, lady. I'll see you around. " He turned and walked out the door. "Bye."

Diane deflated a bit. She'd spoken to him, though. That was something. Next time, she'd have him for sure.

She stood up and closed the door before going to the bed. She lay down next to the cooling body there and began to masturbate, her mind filled with the sound of Death's voice. "Next time, baby. You'll be mine..."

Three and Four.

Philip and Angela were a hot swinging couple into needleplay and bondage.  It took less than a week to work out the details. Philip and Angela found themselves hogtied and craving release when Diane pulled the needles out and waited patiently for the inevitable. She arranged the playroom so there was room for her coupling with Death, and she already looked fabulous from her encounter.  Death wasn't late. Philip and Angela were standing in the middle of the room looking confused and elated.

"I'll be damned. You." Death said, surprised. "Lady, we need to stop meeting like this. At least until it's your turn."

"Hello, Sexy. I'm here. They aren't going anywhere. Let's party some before you go." 

The two others began to talk, but Death cut them off. "Listen. No stupid questions. Sit down and shut up before you ... no, wait. Go upstairs and wait in the living room. I'll be right up. Not. A. Word."

"Are you the cops? Why are..." Philip began.

"Do you have fucking ears? I said No questions. Go." Death was cantankerous with them. "NOW."
They left, talking to each other as they did as they were told.

"Now, hot suff... We're alone. Let's you and I play some. Whattya say?" Diane was visibly aroused, her face and chest flush, and her eyes ablaze.

"I have a better idea, sweetheart." Death was smiling.

"Oh yes? Well come over here and we'll talk about it" Diane motioned to the bed and began to remove her panties."I've got a conversation starter for you..."

Death kept smiling. He reached out and kissed her on the lips. She felt so cold, and was no longer interested in fucking Death, she just wanted to warm up. She pushed him away, and crossed the room for the robe she'd dropped there before tying the couple up. When she looked at Death, still sitting on the couch next to her body, she reeled.

"You got what you wanted, lady. You had a real date with death. You had a brief, illustrious career as a serial killer, but it's going to be in all the papers that you died with your last kills. And to make it worse, you're going to be photographed like this." Death motioned to her body, reclining on the couch, her panties hooked onto the heel of her left shoe. "Pretty nice, don't you think?"

Diane stood with her mouth open, staring.

"It's a good thing I have a big car. Let's go for a ride, shall we?" Death said crossing the room and taking her arm. "A date with Death. Really? That's what you wanted?"

She looked at him, cold and tearing up.

"Come on, Dummy. I've got heat in the car." 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Girl's Dragon

The little girl looked up, her perfect eyes reflecting the perfect sky. Clouds rolled slowly and lazily past the sun, slightly dimming the light, but replacing it with the faintest of prismatic color changes just around the edges. She smiled and let herself get dizzy from the enormity of the boundlessness.

From a long distance, it would seem that this one child was all alone in the universe. A single point of laughing innocence in a field of green almost as large as the sky. The grass waved like the ocean tide, low hills and shallow swails interrupted by an occasional rocky outcropping. She stood at the edge of a cliff where the field met the sky, and far below the ocean roared and foamed onto a rocky shore. The wind caressed the cliff face, blowing the little girl's dress up from time to time, as she giggled.

She used her hand as a visor to shield her eyes from the sun and scanned the horizon. There He was. Enormous even from this distance, she never ceased to feel giddy when she saw him. It wasn't the seeing that delighted her so much as feeling him rise into the sky long before that. She could feel his joy, his freedom. She could feel the weightlessness of his heart when he flew, soaring high or skimming low at breakneck speeds. He was pure joy in the sky, and to her soul.  She waved to him, laughing the whole time.

The dragon pivoted sharply against the blue, a black shape made of blades and spines. He tightened his wings and careened seemingly out of control towards her and the cliff. She stood her ground and held her breath, as she always did. He approached with such speed that it seemed impossible for him to escape crashing headlong into the stone face or rocky beach. But with a mighty effort, the dragon turned his face upwards, strained his body against the pull of the ground, and began to turn skyward again. he skimmed the edge of the ocean, picking up water and releasing it against the rocky cliff higher and higher until the last of it became a fine mist that covered the giggling child. He rose up, unfurling his wings against the sky and hovered for just a moment to gaze upon her. She smiled up at him and he landed beside her, gently so as not to knock her over. He flattened his bristles and spines, smoothed his scales, and curled around her as a 60 foot long cat might curl around a mouse. She wrapped her arms around his muzzle and kissed him incessantly. He nuzzled her, sliding his face against her gently, and lovingly. she squealed in delight.

The dragon nosed her, easing her up onto his muzzle. She sat astride, and leaned down onto her elbows, staring into his enormous face. She leaned all the way down and kissed him between the eyes. He blinked, made a tender expression, and she understood. He loved her, too. She hugged his muzzle again, lying prone against it. He closed his eyes and relaxed in the sunshine. The breeze blew gently and they slept together, safe in each other as the sun slipped closer and closer to the horizon. The girl dreamed of flying, of being a tiny little dragon, herself. She opened her tiny little wings and soared in her tiny little way. She was happy to feel this free, as she had felt through her enormous friend so many times before. The dragon dreamed of being a boy, earthbound and average. A boy who could hold a girl's hand and kiss her cheek in the dark under the sky. They woke together, as they often did, and worked the nap-induced fog from their minds. The dragon rearing up, the girl clinging casually to his muzzle. He turned his head and allowed the girl to slip onto his back. She scrambled to her spot between his shoulders and settled down. It was time to fly.

And fly, they did. A series of deceivingly smooth steps, a beat of those circus-tent-wide wings, and a leap of faith and passion over the edge of the cliff found them skybound. The girl chuckled and grinned, the dragon felt her tiny hands on his neck and embraced the tenderness. She held on tight, as she'd been taught, and he trusted her to not let go. They barrel tolled, and spun, and swooped, and pivoted. They dd all manner of acrobatics, and without fail, each trick make the girl laugh.  They went so high that the very ocean looked small. They fell for minutes at a time as the dragon listened to the squeals and pips from his companion, each one a song that fed his heart. They cavorted until the sun disappeared behind the horizon, and the air grew chill. But Dragon had a trick or two inside of his ancient body. He could keep her warm. She let his heat fill her entirely, her cheeks flushing. She looked up to see the field of stars, then down to see the tiny island she had been standing on. It was bewildering to be here, to have a dragon to love and cherish. It was a gift to her that an old monster would accept and love her with all the tenderness she was shown.  She let her head swoon with happiness, then leaned forward and kissed his neck.  The Dragon felt it, closed his eyes for just a second, and in that eternity felt the love of a child smooth over all the old wounds. He spiraled up, then began a long, slow descent to the ocean.  They watched the luminous creatures beneath the waves as they meandered over the water. They saw the sky reflected, and even the old dragon felt a little small at this. Everything was so big. Dragon gracefully alighted on the cliff, and crouched so the girl could slide off. She hit the grass, turned and gave him the biggest hug she could muster.  Dragon smiled and touched her with his muzzle.

"I love you, Dragon" She said, her voice as tiny as she was.
"And I love you, Little One." He replied.
They fell asleep under the free and open sky, a dragon and his treasure

And everything was right in the 'verse.

For Nancy.
Happy Birthday. <3