The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for August, 2009

Mary’s House and Garden

Posted by thearrow on August 27, 2009

The fairy-tale house where a chipmunk lives under the steps, birds come to the countless bird feeders, and bumble bees delight in sweet nectar. Oh, and where my boyfriend, S., grew up 🙂

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Good-Bye Summer, Hello Traffic

Posted by thearrow on August 26, 2009

I’ve enjoyed biking to work tremendously this summer. I loved the tree shade alternating with the sun, the bridge over the blue expanse of the Potomac river, the morning breeze, the clouds and sunsets I admired on the way back home, and a rainbow I saw the other day behind the Lincoln Memorial. The only inconvenience was having a cluster of anxious road bikers behind me on the bridge, which is too narrow to pass another biker. That was exactly the place where I like to bike leisurely so that I can admire the river; plus, it’s a bit uphill, so even more of a reason to relax. The last thing I needed was hearing gears changing behind me and feeling the impatience of those I was holding up. But even that didn’t happen too often.

I especially enjoyed breezing through empty streets, a sure sign of vacation. My route to work is somewhat close to Georgetown University and passes by the George Washington University, usually humming with people, cars, and trucks but beautifully quiet in the summer.

Until today. All of a sudden, there were lots of bikers on the trail and a ton of cars on the street. No breezing through any more, no speeding when I felt like it, but no slow biking on the bridge either. I think I’ll have to start leaving early for work again.


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Police Snafu Over Dylan

Posted by thearrow on August 15, 2009

In the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me department, Bob Dylan was not recognized by police in New Jersey and was asked to show an ID. He was asked what he was doing in that town, to which he respectfully answered “I’m on tour.” The police officers were in their 20s and unfamiliar with his work. They agreed to go with him to the hotel, where his tour staff confirmed what he said. Now excuse me while I go to roll on the floor with laughter. Not at the police, but at how hilarious it was to have regular folks vouch for you, a living legend.

Oh, and the reason for all this was that he was walking around a neighborhood. That goes under the only-in-America file, as here you have to have a purposeful walk and the concept of walking leisurely is relatively unknown outside big metropolitan areas. Kind of like the concept of leisure itself, I would say. Or kind of like Dylan in that small New Jersey town where this happened.

On the other hand, the police would have been happy with an ID. The rest of us mortals who happen to know who he is would have probably wanted to touch Dylan to believe it was him. So you decide who’s more irrational.


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Big Sky Minnesota

Posted by thearrow on August 13, 2009

Last month I visited Lake Park, MN, the place where my boyfriend (let’s call him S.) grew up; I had a blast. It’s a charming small town of 700 people, with one highschool, one bank, one post office, one pawn shop and maybe two car insurance companies. His mom is this sweet 83-old lady who mows her own lawn and lives by herself, with some help with errands and rides from neighbors. It’s the kind of place where people knock on your door to ask you what you need or to tell you that they’ve already done something for you because they knew you needed it.

I loved the Minnesota landscape — a stretch of small rolling hills specked with patches of trees and thousands of lakes, from tiny to huge. It was incredibly relaxing to drive through it (although it’s true that I didn’t do the driving) and get absorbed by the deep green of the trees alternating with the lighter one of crops, the wonderful big sky with huge, puffy clouds, and those fairy-tale lakes.

While taking pics in town  a guy asked me with a big (but a little wary) smile toward the end of my stroll, “Are you some under cover secret agent? I saw you taking pictures downtown and now you are near my business so I started getting nervous.” I started laughing. S’s mom said, “I hope you answered yes to that question.” Heh-heh. I really wish I did. We were both hoping that she’d hear funny rumors about some out-of-town woman photographing downtown, but that didn’t happen.

Here are pics from Lake Park, with two more albums to follow: S’s mom’s house and a boat ride on one of those lakes.



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My Way of Visiting Museums

Posted by thearrow on August 5, 2009

I have been reflecting lately on how museum visiting has changed for me since I bought my beloved camera. As the few of you who have been reading this page might know, I’m an avid museum visitor. I can spend 7 hours in a museum in one stretch. Sure, my lower back will hurt, but I’ll go grab a bite in the cafe, get rested, and then start afresh.

I’m a collector at heart (been meaning to write about that, too). If I could, I would have a collection of classical literature and music but this is more a fantasy than anything else. Also if I could, I would have a huge house surrounded by a garden and an orchard, where I could spend my days reading from that huge collection. I actually doubt that I would be able to live such a secluded life, but I like to think I could.

When I visited great museums years ago I tried to imprint in my memory as many of the works of art I saw as possible, in an effort to collect them at least there and hopefully retrieve their polished image later. Of course, very few of them really did get that deep into my mind.

But now we live in a different world, where collecting images is so easy that everyone does it. And, just as I was musing about all this, a New York Times article describes the same phenomenon: “At Louvre, Many Stop to Snap but Few Stay to Focus.” It got me thinking about how taking pictures has changed my own viewing experience. I still linger quite a bit in front of exhibits I like, but taking pictures of them is like hunting trophy game. Needless to say, it helps me remember what I saw where. And here’s one more thing I do: I photograph the information plates next to the exhibits, too. I realized I remember zilch from what I read and I hated that. Well, now I capture it and I’m very proud of my trick. The little plates as well as the big ones, with info on certain historical periods, geographical areas, cultures, artistic currents etc.

I have yet to make online albums for four or five museums I’ve visited this way this year, though, and I can sense a certain hesitation. My memories of past museum visits are glowing warmly in my heart and part of the reason is that they were one-time intense experiences. There was (still is) no telling as to when or if I’ll see them again. I was also much younger, had not seen as many museums, and was completely thrilled to be in front of an original masterpiece. But because the camera always creates a distance between you and your subject, I inevitably have less of an intense viewing experience even if I do take my time to admire a painting. At the back of my mind there’s the thought that I’ll be able to see it again.

Now, with the pictures taken and (some time soon) neatly arranged in albums, I’m afraid my memories will not be as glowing either. I get to possess the images I love, but the beautiful experience of trying to absorb them with all my neurons and pores is probably gone. I will be able to access them any time but I’m afraid there will be no intensity whatsoever in doing it and that makes me sad. Imperfect memories in smoky shapes might very well mean (a lot?) more than the crisp high-resolution files stored on a hard drive.

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My Hopes

Posted by thearrow on August 3, 2009


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