Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sepia Saturday 328: To the Rescue

Our theme image for Sepia Saturday 328 - post your posts on or around Saturday 30 April 2016 and link to the list below - is a 1914 photograph from the Flickr Commons collection of the Dutch National Archives. The caption of the photograph is "The Great War. Refugees from Antwerp, Belgium, bringing a painting into safety. Belgium, 1914" As with all Sepia Saturday visual prompts, you are free to go in whichever direction you want when interpreting this theme: there is plenty of subject matter in there just waiting to be rescued. 
Unknown artist: photograph by Nancy Javier
"I just wanted to share my new painting. Barbara and I spotted it on the side of the road in a pile of trash. She jumped out of the car and picked it up and I took it home and hung it up. It really makes me happy. I can't imagine why it was thrown away."

Barbara and Nancy introduced me to Sepia Saturday. They are rescuers of both animals and things. The above was Nancy's note on Facebook about this painting they found. The painting makes me happy too, because it was rescued but also because of the look in the eyes of the subject. I think she's asking the question, "Why was I dumped?" She was destined to find a home with Nancy and Barbara. 

I wondered if the painter was portraying two sides of this woman's personality. I know there's a shadow on one side, but the effect is of shorter, more intensely colored hair on her left and a brighter blue eye. Her right side is softer and a little more yielding. I love the unsmiling pose and the slightly off-center position of her face on the canvas.  

I echo Nancy's wonder, "Who would throw this away?"

Recently I rescued this photo from a local antique store. My rescue was more deliberate than Nancy/Barbara's; I found her for sale in an antique shop. The photo was shuffled in with postcards addressed to her from various places around the country. They all must have been part of an estate sale. I was attracted to her because of the date,1942, the year I was born, and her curly hair. Because I know her name I was able to look her up on Ancestry and find out that she was married to an optometrist in Whittier for 20 years before his death in 1977 after which she moved to Orange where she died in 2008. There was a postcard from her father in the same pile of photos and he spelled her last name incorrectly. I thought that was telling. Her husband had been married once before and perhaps her Dad didn't like him.  

Nancy and Barbara taught me how to see things in paintings that I never saw before. The pleasure I get out of viewing art has increased a thousand fold because of cruising art shows and garage sales with them. Here is a photo of me enjoying a still life in Amsterdam last year at the Rijksmuseum. I could have spent an hour on this one canvas alone.

Adriaen von Utrecht painted the banquet still life in 1644. Was it a show-off piece to demonstrate that he could paint anything? Painting was very competitive at that time and he showed in this scene that he could paint with pin-point accuracy: glass, stamped brass, seafood, bakery goods, fruit, furniture and even a monkey. The monkey, as the central figure in the secondary grouping, may be delivering the morality message in the scene as the animal frequently represented "sin" in these paintings. The fact that he's off the chain and the scene is so over-the-top luscious may lead one to interpret the painting as a cautionary tale about excess. Ah yes....nothing exceeds like excess!

Not that I'm any expert, but gradually I'm starting to learn what I like and to be able to say why I like it. Would I have liked the sketch below by Andy Warhol? No...I probably wouldn't
have paid ten dollars for it on the basis of it's merit, however it was signed and Mr. Fields might have had his suspicions. It's one of the greatest garage sale/rescues of all - photo and information from

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sepia Saturday 324: Plagued or Blessed with the Wanderlust Gene

flikr, Library of Congress

The New Inn is still around and the town of Clovelly in Devon is booming with tourists.  They still call it the New Inn which is quite funny as the photo was taken in 1880 by Francis Bedford.  In the old days only pedestrians and donkeys with sledges transported goods up to the town, likely from the sea shore where the goods ships made landings. I found the view of the inn from the other side in a Flikr file. The prompt photo is from the National Media Museum. 
No wonder the town is mobbed now. It looks like the village where Doc Martin was filmed in Port Isaac, Cornwall known as Portwenn in the TV show. These photos are all from the Clovelly Tourist web page.

My mother hated traveling. She loved staying home and she positively revered routine. Is that why I fight "routine" tooth and nail and why nothing pleases me more than being on the road? Do we inevitably swing the other way when our parents are rigid? My mother took exactly the same route to the store every time she went. It didn't matter if another way was faster, safer or more interesting. There was one way to the store and that's the way we went. My husband teases me now if I try to give him driving directions. "Yes Jill," he says and I shut up.

In all fairness, my mother never discouraged me from traveling nor did she express any disapproval. She'd only say, "I don't know how you do it." In some ways, when travelers speak to non-travelers it's like they're from different planets. Some speculate that their DNA is different. Here's a link to an interesting article on the subject.  DRD4-7R is the gene they call the Wanderlust Gene. I think I have it; I know my mother did not.

When my mother came from Canada to visit me and my sister in California, she'd start counting the days until she could leave almost as soon as she arrived. I loved to have her with us, but hated to see her suffer. On her last few visits she was escorted by my friend Linda, the kindest person on the planet, who came along with her and we were all able to enjoy some time together. Mother was much more relaxed with Linda and the security of her company took away some of the terrible stress she felt when away from home.

I have only this one photo of my mother on the road. She and my dad took the obligatory European tour after he retired. This ghastly room is in Paris. At first glance I thought it was a hospital room and the black thing on the wall was an IV drip. Who would put a telephone up on the wall between two beds? The interior design is wanting to say the least. On the table is a bottle of whisky and two bottles of water...that's what my father drank: one part whisky, two parts water. Poor mother was stuck in that room counting the days left before she could leave, watching my father read guide books and sip at the whisky. Poor thing.
Reading about Clovelly and Devon rattled the heck out of my DRD4-74 and got me interested in the South West Coast Path. I've been looking for a walking vacation we could do with our traveling buddies who love to hike, preferably in England and this one would be a doozy....630 miles. My husband (who also has the Wanderlust gene) choked when I mentioned it to him, but I'm thinking we could attempt 25% of it in one chunk. That would be a reasonable 8 miles a day for 20 days with time off for good behavior. It would take about a month. 

Now that I have a nodding acquaintance with Clovelly, the smallest section I would do is the one from Clovelly to Westward Ho which is 11.1 miles. Clovelly, in the information on the walk, is described as an ancient village with links to "smuggling and wrecking." They also mention the village has been used in many TV shows and films including the 1990 version of Treasure Island starring Charlton Heston. 

I'm going to start training. My mother would call me insane. 

Mother would consider me insane.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sepia Saturday #327, April 23rd, 2016: "Get Me Started"

If you inhabit this part of the world you cannot fail to be aware that this Thursday marks the 90th birthday of the British Queen - Elizabeth II. To mark the event our theme image this week features a photograph from 1943 which shows Elizabeth and her sister Margaret as young women who performed in a pantomime production of Aladdin at Windsor Castle. The picture comes from the Daily Herald archives which are now held at the National Media Museum

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth!

For the "sister's" aspect of the photo this week, I chose one my father's creative
shots (all he had was his Brownie) of my sister Eilleen and myself enhanced by the morning light coming through the Venetian blinds. The day was probably Sunday and she was reading me the funnies which came in the Saturday paper as we did not have a Sunday edition. Eilleen loved to play roles and she enjoyed acting out the funnies for me.

Sometimes she'd use a cake box, the kind with the plastic window, as a little stage. She'd cut the funnies into strips and roll them around a pencil; using two pencils, she'd roll the comics from one pencil to the other, capturing the strips, frame by frame in the window. Each frame was a little tableau. I loved this and would beg her to "play comics" with me. 
Helen and Eilleen 1947

Both of these photos churn up emotion in me - I can remember how wonderful I thought my sister was and how much I wanted to be just like her. In that regard, we were very different from the royal sisters. I don't think Margaret was envious of her sister in the slightest and recognized early on what a difficult job her sister had ahead of her. When her father unexpectedly became king in 1936 following Edward VIII's abdication, Margaret, then six, said to Elizabeth: "Does that mean you're going to be queen? Poor you."
Elizabeth and Margaret, 1939

While looking at information about the Queen to write this post, I found this little tidbit so endearing. At her coronation in 1953, her robes were so heavy that she asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to give her a push, saying, "Get me started."

Poor little Elizabeth, so weighted down. 

Climb on your magic carpet and check out the stories at Sepia Saturday


Pencil in hand, I searched out the Suduko in the Sunday Times of India. The puzzle was in the sports section and as I scanned the page I spotted these spine-chilling notices. Unidentified bodies are not unique to India; we have our share of people whose bodies are found but who are never identified - approximately 40,000 nationwide as of 2015. I've never seen this type of notice posted in a newspaper before. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Behind the Beautiful Whatevers ...

Dough boy...

Need a whale cut in half? Here's the really big blade.
How would you like to spend the day in this kiosk with the wide screen TV blaring Bollywood movies constantly?

The flat breads bake on the sides of the tandoori. The little plaid thing is what the dough is rolled on. 

Flies, taking a break.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Sepia Proofs Saturday #326 - April 16th

Eilleen Killeen

Jill Killeen

There's something numbing about contact sheets and the repetition; at the same time they reveal a lot. I spent some considerable time squinting at food shots on this kind of proof sheet with a magnifier, mostly looking for error.  I was never very confident about the aesthetic part of the process and I'd rely on the photographers to pick out the best shots. Now that I'm a student at the Sepia Saturday College of Photographic Inspection, I'm enjoying these sheets much more. I've learned from all my Sepian friends about the details which can tell so much about a person, a place or a time. Yes, the devil is certainly in there somewhere.

Among my keepsakes, I found these photo booth strips, the closest thing I have to contact sheets. The smiling child at the top of the post is my sister Eilleen at about eight years old; one strip is of my mother, Jill Killeen in 1969 at about fifty-nine years of age; and the last strip is my mother and me when I was about three years old. As usual I suffered when held still...I had "itchy" feet even then. 

And here's where my itchy feet have brought me the porch of a houseboat on Lake Dal in Kashmir.

Grab your magnifying glass and head over to for more inspection adventures.