My Own Forever Ago

Michael Branson Smith kicked off the Fall 2011 #ds106 with High School Is Everyone’s Forever Ago. It’s his beautiful self-introduction, well thought out, great story, and includes a photo of him from the 80s, and a portion of a passed note on the topic of taking a driving test. It reminded me of all the notes I passed during high school. My best friend Allison would write part of a story and pass the paper to me to continue the plot. I’d pass it back to her after adding my own plot twist. And so it would go. I’m pretty sure I don’t have those notes anymore, but I saved them for a long time.

1980s big hair me

big hair, big glasses, big smile

Michael encouraged me to share the rocker chick photo of myself that I thought would make him laugh, but I have no idea where it is, so instead I scanned this one, which is, I have to say, the biggest my hair ever got, and don’t you love my nerdy glasses? I really had it all going for me.

I’m supposed to be introducing myself and instead I’m sort of riffing off Michael’s post. I think that’s okay – you’ll get to know me as we go along.

Michael talked about those moments in life where so much is happening, and you’re taking it all in and really feeling those momentous shifts, and time slows down or speeds up in a way that those periods of time become distorted. High school is everyone’s forever ago, and your kids were born a few weeks ago even if they’re on their own way into high school.

And then there are some moments that get frozen, or repeat, or echo through time.

I went on a month-long trip through Great Britain, courtesy of my mom, the summer after I graduated from high school. I guess when you spend that amount of time away from your normal life, without the same responsibilities and daily grind, and when you spend those days making epic memories, well, those things tend to reverberate around in your personal space-time continuum. Back in 1987 during that month of travel, I saw so many places that have a lot more known (to me anyway) human history than anywhere in the United States. One place in particular stuck out as pretty incredible to see with my own eyes, and that was Stonehenge. It knocked the wind out of me when I saw it in person. I was just awestruck at the almost tangible feeling of how long it’s been there.

I’ve always been grateful to my mom for making that experience possible for me. I was really excited to take her to visit some of the same places I saw in 1987 when we went to Great Britain together this summer, 24 years later.

But my mom had a knee injury during our second week that kept both of us from doing any traveling at all for about two weeks during our trip. We shared the experience of being scared at facing an unknown medical problem in a foreign health care system. We shared stress and frustration and a slow healing process, too. We felt happy and lucky to be together no matter where we were and what was happening. But we were both a little crushed that we didn’t get to see many of the things we had planned together.

On our last travel weekend, we managed to rent a wheelchair, and Mom braved the long train and bus trips, and we went to see Bath and then Stonehenge together. When I saw Stonehenge from the bus window I burst into tears. It felt like such an epic journey just to get back there, and such a privilege to share it with my mom. Goosebump city.

Why am I writing about this? I guess Michael’s post makes me a little sad that I don’t have kids of my own, but it also reminded me there are plenty of wonderful experiences and memories for me with the family and friends that I do have.

Mom and me at Stonehenge, 2011, yes the British wheelchair came with the plaid blanket

Oh, and you better believe I wheeled Mom all around the monument as I babbled out every single thing I could remember about it from art history and British history courses.

me at stonehenge

victory photo at Stonehenge, 2011 - smaller hair, smaller glasses, bigger hips... but still fabulous

Posted in #ds106, digital storytelling, family, history, travel | Tagged | 14 Comments

Introducing the York Biscuit

York Biscuit

Most of the students within our Study Abroad program are in Paris right now. Two students, my mother being one of them, chose not to go to Paris, and it was my duty to stay behind and lead them on an excursion somewhere in the UK instead. So today the three of us went to York. We had a blast, and some of the sillier travel flubs that my mother and I made will likely wind up as funny stories for #ds106radio in a while.

We spent most of the day wandering around York’s city center and enjoying ourselves. When we got back to Nottingham my mom made up this dessert, pictured above, from ingredients obtained while exploring York, and she decided to call it a York Biscuit. Here is how to make one:

Go to York. Walk up the Shambles to the Little Shambles Tea Room, have an English breakfast for lunch, and then go out into the open air market near the butcher shop and buy some locally grown fresh strawberries and some clotted cream. Tip the purple man so he will move. Have Constantine direct you to York Minster and have a look around inside. Note the health benefits of bile beans. Take a walk on a fortress wall. Enjoy afternoon tea at Betty’s, and buy Chocolate Orange Crisps on your way out. Take all purchased food home with you.

Once home, top a Chocolate Orange Crisp with a generous portion of clotted cream, then top with strawberries, and you have a York Biscuit.

Posted in #ds106, art, blog, culture, digital storytelling, family, food, friends | 2 Comments

Sad ice cream incident

Sad ice cream incident, streets of Nottingham

Walking around Nottingham this 3rd July, I noticed someone had dropped and then abandoned this ice cream cone and thought it would make an interesting context for a street photo. I didn’t get it straight, but I didn’t try a second times since I was in the way of many pedestrians. I still love this image because it tells a story, and in a way, I kind of like the slight skew.

I’ve had a hard time keeping up with my faculty duties and #ds106, and unfortunately that has meant not keeping up with #ds106. My heart is with you, you incredible crazy community! I miss you all terribly. I will be trying to keep up a bit. We have no wifi in my classroom or I would try to broadcast one of my class discussions. I may try recording one if it doesn’t freak my students out too much.

Meanwhile, many apologies for my lack of comments on your work. We’ll see if I can begin again.

I will head out to Cardiff, Wales this weekend to see their storytelling museum and meet one of the original Capture Wales team; more on that forthcoming. For now, I’m due in class shortly so I’m off.

#ds106forlife

Posted in art, blog, life, travel | 2 Comments

Deadline

Deadline

@DailyShoot – #ds592 – What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “deadline”? #ds106

This is actually the second thing I thought of, July first, my imminent departure for the United Kingdom, and all the things that must be completed before then.

The first thing I thought of was an EKG flatlined, the ultimate deadline. But I don’t have access to one for photography, so this calendar will have to do.

Posted in #ds106, art, blog, DailyShoot, digital storytelling, life, photography | Tagged | 2 Comments

Illlustrated Design Principles

These design principles are found in Molly Bang’s book, Picture This. This book not only gives design principles and examples, but also presents them so you can visually understand what is communicated to the viewer through pictures. I recommend this book to all visual artists as a supplement to their design library. I re-drew these book illustrations using Illustrator.

Smooth, flat, horizontal shapes give us a sense of stability and calm.


Vertical shapes are more exciting and more attractive. Vertical shapes rebel against the earth’s gravity. They imply energy and a reaching toward heights of the heavens.


Diagonal shapes are dynamic because they imply motion or tension.


The upper half of a picture is a place of freedom, happiness and triumph. Objects placed in the upper half often feel more spiritual & important. An object placed there has greater pictorial weight.


The center of the page is the most effective. It is the point of greatest attraction.


White or light backgrounds feel safer to us than dark backgrounds because we see well during the day and only poorly during the night.


We feel more scared looking at pointed shapes. We feel more secure or comforted looking at rounded shapes or curves.


The larger the object is in the picture, the stronger it feels.


We associate the same or similar colors much more strongly than we associate the same or similar shapes.


We notice contrasts. Contrasts enable us to see … through our associations and perceptions.


Try one or more of these out in your next design assignment. Pick on that supports your purpose or intent and incorporate it into your design work.

Posted in #ds106, art, digital storytelling | 4 Comments