Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
It has been a busy weekend with much going on. Friday there was the College of Engineering Commencement. Saturday morning was the big SJSU Graduation and that evening a fun party at the Crosby's. Yesterday I went on a bike ride with Veronica, that was a lot of fun. Then, last night, Sue and I watched the finale of Battelstar Gallactica.
Today I am doing grading but took time out to go on a fun bike ride with friends to Los Gatos. It was a good break!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
[Click here to hear audio]
Less than a week before she died Marie left me a phone message. She and I had been text messaging but for some reason she was unable to text back. So she left a phone message asking me to call back. I did and we had our last conversation. I was able to patch that phone message onto my computer. This is Marie's voice.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday I went with friends to Watsonville on the Strawberry Fields Century bicycle ride, That bike ride was great fun. After the bike ride; Sue, Kenneth and I went to Marysville, CA near Wheatland, CA where we spent the night. Today we were in Wheatland for Marie's funeral.
It was a very nice funeral. It really reflected Marie and her family. The video that I made as my way to say goodbye to Marie was chosen by Marie's husband Kirk to be shown at the funeral. That was a real honor for me. Also, I put together a photo exhibit of mounted prints. This was added to many other photos of Marie brought by others.
I spoke to family and friends, some of whom I had not seen for 20-years. It was a very moving experience. The video and photos were well received. Though a lot tears were shed during the showing of the video; many commented on how much the video meant to them. I gave DVD copies of the video to members of Marie's family.
Marie was buried in a cometary on a hill near Sheridan, CA. Her grave is right next to the grave of her sister Martha (who died in a car accident in 2005.) When she was laid to rest I could hear a train blow its whistle as it passed by on the very busy Union Pacific railroad tracks that go through Sheridan.
It was so good to see Marie's friends and family. I had a very touching conversation with Marie's mom. Marie must have loved seeing all these people together.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I love shooting digital and the digital work flow. A digital camera is like a good friend that lets me make some great pictures, but I am still in love with film.
Film sees light in a totally different way. Film reacts to light organically. The light changes film, it is not like a digital sensor that responds to light as a result of programming. A film emulsion feels light and is unalterably chemically changed by light and that makes film different. Once it sees light the film is never the same again. The film holds that latent image and awaits its interpretation in development.
Once processed, those qualities can be scanned and brought into the digital world but that first reaction to light is unique. The tonal scale is not the same as digital. I love it and that is why I am still in love with and still shoot and still process film.
Everything else is a side show, to me. Film is the real deal; to me.
Since I only take pictures for myself, that is what matters to me.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I rode to and from work today with Veronica. I dropped her at the Yoga Studio then continued to SJSU. Deb Lefferts was working the aid station there so I got to hang out with her and visit. It was a great bike to work day!
Monday, May 11, 2009
We had a nice Mother's Day. We had spent the night before in Patterson (more on that later.) We got back to San Jose in the early afternoon and I baked a tri-tip when Sue went to pick up her mom. We looked at old photos, talked and enjoyed a nice dinner and one of our best bottles of wine.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Her sons are all men and I did not recognize any of them. I did not mention Marie's death last week though it was heavy on my mind.
My cold has gone to my lungs and that made sleeping last night pretty miserable.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Vega Wagons and Desert Sand
Vega wagons do NOT make the best train chasing vehicles, especially when you mistake a desert wash for a road. This is not far from Desert Center, CA around 1982. Then four year old Jeff Sloan is telling the driver of the four wheel drive how we happened to get stuck up a wash.
Photo by Ken Compton
I don't want to miss Scot's wedding tomorrow I hope I can make that.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
I made this movie about Marie. She was a peaceful warrior who surrounded the people she cared for with her love. We wear that love like a suit of armor. I hope this movie gives anybody who views it a sense of that. I also hope it communicates the love and admiration I and the other people who love her, have for her.
I am sorry but it is heavy on photos from the 70's and the 90's because those are the only pictures in my vast collection that I have organized.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
[More Photos Here]
Marie's Son Jesse Writes
Hey Steve, I love what you wrote about mom. And the pictures are great. I was wondering if you could make me some copies, but only if it's not too much trouble.
Being a photographer like you, I also have hundreds of pictures of mom, but they are not nearly as good as the ones you have taken over the years and I don't have many from her "hippie" days. I would greatly appreciate it. I really like the idea of having some sort of reunion/wake for her (other than the funeral). She had a lot of friends and family that would probably like to get together and reflect on what a wonderful person she was. All I have is a lousy myspace page, JESSE (Nature Boy)!, and I've never really blogged, so I'm going to give you what I've wrote over the past couple of days and if you want to post it on your blog, feel free to.
When you needed a helping hand, she was always there. When you needed someone to talk to, she was always there. She loved doing crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, watching Jeopardy and whenever she had a chance, she’d go to the thrift stores and garage sales to buy whatever knickknacks she had room for. She loved cooking and she was never afraid to experiment in the kitchen. Her salsa was perfect and I don’t think anyone will forget her lasagna. She also loved to garden and show off her handy work around the house. Not just the simple day to day chores, that she never let go by, but huge projects like refinishing all the kitchen cabinets, redesigning the bathroom, building things in the garden and all the various other projects that kept her busy. She also loved traveling. whether it was a day trip to Bodega Bay, a week long adventure in Mexico, a descent into a cave or a drive to the top of Mt. Diablo. I remember one time when we were on our way home from work in Reno. We were driving over the pass and a huge blizzard caught us by surprise. Most people would have panicked, but she actually got excited and the expression on her face was like that of a kid who had just seen Disneyland for the first time. She loved adventures and challenges. She’d wake us up to see thunderstorms, meteor showers, and eclipses. She loved to see the forces of nature at work. When there was a flood or a strong storm, we’d drive around town to see damage first hand. She even got to experience the big earthquake of 89’ from where it happened. She loved parties. She would throw a party for anything. Birthdays, Holidays, Super Bowls, graduations, and anything else that gave her a chance to get us all together and have fun. And that is what she was all about, togetherness.
She also had a strong work ethic. In her youth she worked at the Sacramento Speedway, then I believe she worked at a gas station, after that she did housekeeping, then finally she got a job with I.R.I. She worked hard and no matter how stressful or big the project, she always got it done. Through all the computer problems, dead batteries, hours in the “cold boxes”, earthquakes, blizzards and holiday chaos, she got it done.
She was the center of a large “family”, and by family I mean everyone that she held dear to her, and that was a lot of people. A lot of people! For instance, even though she divorced my dad, they were always friends and she was always there to give him support. She kept in touch with his side of the family; Lois, Michelle, Candy, Steve and his kids. She, like so many other people often do, could have cast them aside and moved on, but that was not her way. Once you you were in her heart there was no way out. Even the “old” friends of her youth like, Bruce, Joanne, Janet, Bobby and Randy and others from the “Ciaros” days. She treated everyone like family. She would stand by your side in times of sickness and give you her undivided attention when you needed someone to talk to and believe it or not she’d even bail you out of jail, no questions asked. She was close to all her friends at work and especially all the kids me and Heather knew. Her home was always open to those who had no where to go. We didn’t know how lucky we were back then to have someone looking out for us. She was a Saint. When her sister died she took control and stood by her nieces and nephews through the toughest time in their lives and she visited Milo every chance she could. She also never gave up on Heather. No matter how crazy things got, she never gave up. It was not her way! Then, when the grandchildren entered her life she went into overdrive. She made sure they had a good childhood. She gave them everything they asked for and more. From giant Christmas’ to wonderful birthday parties. A pack of yu-gi-o cards here a Bratz doll there. She paid for little league every year, kept them in “fashion”, gave them rides, helped them with school, and even like she did with me and Heather, she treated their friends like family. She was also very close to her Mom and sisters. Always there to help them, or comfort them in times of need. I’ll never forget the holidays when the four of them got together. It was almost magical. As for me, well, she was my inspiration. Always there to help me out with one of my crazy projects. Always willing to make a side trip on the way home from work so I could make a few casts, or snap a few shots. “Play it from the heart” is was she told me about my music. Pretty much everything I did, I did it for her. Her opinions, no matter what others said, were what I went by. I trusted her like no other. Then there was kirk, the love of her life and her knight in shining armor. She meant everything to him and he meant everything to her. They had the perfect marriage. All the screenwriters in the world couldn't have wrote a better script for a marriage than the one mom and Kirk actually lived. They had there dogs; Daisy, Shasta, Fancy, Buford, Murphy, and Lizzy. They had there romantic getaways to Tahoe, Mexico, Canada, San Francisco, and of course Bodega Bay. There was nothing that could come between them, they were inseparable. Beyond faithful.
She was the most honest, respectful, caring person I ever knew. She never lied, she never broke the law and she never hated anyone. She overflowed with love. She was beautiful, and her crooked smile warmed the hearts everyone she knew. And now that she’s gone, we all have to remember what she taught us and live our lives the way she would would have wanted us to.
Jesse: Of course I will make you copies. All you have written about your mom is true! - Steve
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Too often, in my opinion, I have seen funerals that reflect some of the survivors well and not the deceased at all. Often, in my opinion, the personality of a funeral seems to be controlled and set by beliefs of the most religious of the deceased person's relatives and not by the personality of the loved one who has died.
When my first wife died she was religious. So, I had her funeral in a church that worshiped the way she did. I tried very hard to honor and respect her memory that way. People said to me that the service reflected her very well. I made it religious because she was religious. It was an honor to do that. I wanted her funeral to reflect her. Such was not the case in some other funerals I have been to.
I think a typical scenario may be: somebody dies and the family is so devastated they turn to the most religious person in the family who then contacts someone in their church who doesn't know the loved one well or at all. That's who puts together the memorial, a stranger. So, it may end up with an agnostic or even atheist person having a funeral that may be very religious, not reflecting the deceased at all.
In Six Feet Under they had what they referred to as a preneed. That is where a dying person plans his or her own funeral. Hey folks, if you haven't figured it out yet, we are all terminal.
I am saying this for those I will leave behind
This blog is where I am going to express my wishes. This is my preneed. If you look to the side bar on the left you will see a new category. It is called "My Funeral." I am not going to be secretive or morbid about it, but we are mortal. So, I am putting it on the Internet. This is what I want!
Monday, May 04, 2009
I cannot sing her praises too loudly or too long
Marie was a keystone in many lives. You could tell her something and know it would never get retold. She accepted and loved people for who they were. She was a friend you could depend on. She was a safe harbor in a storm. She was selfless, loving and kind. She was stoic and strong but soft and tender hearted. She had an inner beauty that radiated. I have never known anybody who did not like Marie. She was the kind of person people would call and talk to for hours about the troubles in their lives. I know I did. Yet, she seldom would complain about troubles in her life.
In December 2005 Marie's sister Martha died in a freak auto accident. It was one of the worst times in her life. It was terrible. It was not her first sudden loss. Marie was a good friend of my first wife, as I said before; she was the first person I called when my first wife was killed in a car accident.
Marie was a cancer survivor. Her strength got her through this and other awful times in her life.
Years ago I took the photo above. I titled that photo Bell Bottom Blues. I hope in the photo I captured a hint of the admiration I have to this day for Marie. She was an inspiration.
She was 59 years-old when she died. Far too young to die. If you believe there is a God, this is a time of reunion for Marie; reunion with old friends and family. It is a time of grieving and loss for us and a cause of hope for me. I already miss her terribly and I hope somewhere, somehow, to see her again. Until then, she lives on in many, many hearts.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Someone I have known for a long time, and love very, very much died last night. When my first wife died the first person I called was Marie. That night in 1991 Marie and her husband Kirk drove late into the night to be with me. She was my oldest, and one of my closest, friends. I still cannot believe; she is gone.
Last night she had a heart attack and died. It does not seem real, she who had such a wonderful heart, who loved people and life; is gone. How could that wonderful heart become still? I had just seen her a week ago. I still cannot believe; she is gone.
Over the years I have taken many, many pictures of Marie. Some came close, but none could ever catch her spirit, her heart and the love she had for her family and friends. I still cannot believe; she is gone.
Last year she and Kirk celebrated their 25th Anniversary. I still cannot believe; she is gone. She was 55 when she died.