Sunday, November 8, 2015

The End of An Era

This post is the last one for Bonnie King Photography: As I See It.

My passions have changed, encouraged by medical issues - both mine and my husband's. A torn tendon in my ankle has had me limping for over a year. Physical therapy and a brace have certainly helped, but the thought of chasing little ones around a park or being on my feet for an all day wedding assignment is no longer enticing. I will continue to do special events and favors for those who pull on my heart strings, but other than that, the business is closed.

Scott is now occupying my in-home photography studio. It gives him better access to his hobbies, walk-in bathtub and me. I spend so much time now in front of my office computer in the next room, I'm just a whisper away. That's a good and bad thing. He's addicted to national news shows and politics in particular. I'm getting it all - and there's still a year till elections! Shutting the door doesn't help.

The past year, as they all seem to do, flew by. The remodel of the kitchen, upstairs bathroom and utility room took months. Getting an expensive dining room table with a butterfly leaf to work also took most of that time. Ridiculous, but I do love the results now that it's fixed. The whole upstairs looks great. Now, if I could just get Scott back upstairs to see it!

Courtney, Ron and Ben moved to Montana in March (she dabs at her tears), and Kendall, Jon, Micah and Gracie settled in nicely in their new home in Bonney Lake. While I'm seeing far less of grandson Ben (have only seen him three times since they left), I'm seeing more of Micah and Gracie. Kendall's working part time for a university, so I'm babysitting one afternoon a week. Love it.

The passions that now have my interest include Friends At Your Metro Animal Shelter (FAYMAS) and writing the story of my father's youth in the 1920's and '30's. FAYMAS has been ongoing for a couple years and we're making wonderful progress raising money to help the animals at the local shelter.

And finally, I'm making progress on Cat Skinner, the story of a working stiff who experiences love and loss in the '30's. With the help of friends, this story may finally come to fruition. Not wanting to lose the story behind the writing of the story, I've launched a new website, Fair to Middlin': Confessions of a Wannabe Writer.

While this blog is closing, another is opening - and so it goes with my life. I am blessed.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

My Father's Voice

Finding my father's voice is no easy task.

I'm in the throws of writing the story of my dad's life during the "dirty thirties." With the help of my writing group, The Wordsmiths, I'm honing what he might have been thinking, for example, as he drove to his first wife's funeral or how he might have sounded in conversations with other working stiffs or his family.

I knew my dad as a jovial fellow, who liked to play pranks, dance my mom around the kitchen, smoke, joke and drink whiskey. He was also someone always charge or attempting to be. That came from years of running construction crews, working on heavy equipment or driving truck. He made one of the first successful long haul treks to Alaska on the Alcan Highway with bombs for Uncle Sam. In my childish mind's eye, since he was gone a lot because of his work, when he came home - he was the returning hero. That wasn't necessarily who he was as a young man in his twenties.
 My first draft of Cat Skinner, Chapter 1 was diplomatically, but brutally critiqued, not to mention their un-sureness about the book title. "Would your father have pleaded with his mother for assistance? From what we know of your dad, he was usually giving orders. And what did he call her: Ma, Mother, Mom? Who's speaking here? Are you sure that's not your voice and personality instead of your dad's?"

Great feedback creating an even greater challenge for me. Fortunately I have a tape recording of my father telling stories of his youth to help with the syntax, but getting into his head and creating a scene which the reader can see through my father's eyes is stretching my imagination and skill.

While the outline of the story is in my head, my own journey to get it written is an adventure in researching the 30's, asking relatives a myriad of questions, particularly my sister, Lore; and spending a lot of time in decades past - if only mentally. It's fun, exciting and absolutely daunting.

You'll be the first to know when and if I ever really find my father's voice.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

To Wear or Not to Wear - Underwear

"They fit! They finally fit! I was able to move around all day and not feel uncomfortable, strangled at the waist and cinched in the rear! My underwear finally fit!!"

Scott was jubilant yesterday even though he had to wear clothes and go to the doctor in Seattle. When he weighed in at the doctor's office, it confirmed what our home scale had been saying. Scott is losing weight. He was unhappy about the fact the scale weighed heavier than at home, but I reminded him that at home, his usual attire is his birthday suit covered by a bathrobe even older than the one I wear!

For a couple years now, I've been sharing information with Scott about nutrition. (He has other terms for my delivery: nagging, pleading, etc.) All my words of wisdom were to no avail. He was still making nightly trips to the kitchen for Dave's killer bread and peanut butter and then wondering why he was getting so heavy. Couple loaves of bread with very little movement because of his COPD and you have a weight problem.

Finally Scott got the message... from the Internet. If Scott sees it on the computer and in an ad on TV, it must be true! First step was buying a weight bench. I strongly disagreed with the decision, but it's now sitting in our garage (Whoops, Scott's recording studio. Pardon me!) Yes, just sitting there, but he has gone out to look at it and actually picked up a couple five pound weights. That's a start. Right?

A couple months ago, I also received the pronouncement, "NO MORE BREAD!" Okay, I responded quizzically. "I've been studying nutrition," he announced proudly and then handed me a list of the groceries to buy him so he could start eating more healthily:

Frozen (not fresh) vegetables
Apple Cider Vinegar salad dressing
Blueberry yogurt
No Bread for me
Mixed nuts
Eggs, hard boiled - 2/day
No eating after 8 pm
Whey - 1 cup/day with oatmeal
V-8 juice
Cottage cheese with pineapple

I bought everything on the list and we started the new regimen. And yes, I've lost a couple pounds too, but I tend to eat the portion Scott used to eat, just so I don't give more to him. Isn't that thoughtful of me. :-)

While his cardiologist disagrees with two hard boiled eggs a day and items on the list need to be eaten in moderation, this approach seems to be working. Scott's underwear (really big ones) finally fit. He's feeling proud of his accomplishment and it's actually easier for him to move around.

You would think that after 21 years of marriage (this month!), I would understand by now that Scott and most other men I know, have to believe the idea is their very own before it's worth considering. Well, if it helps Scott wear underwear more often, I'm ALL for it!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

It's Time

It’s time. I’d been thinking about it since the first of the year. When I got a request, I was no longer excited; it felt like an interruption, perhaps even an irritation. How could I claim photography as a passion as well as a business, when the pull of a photo session felt more like a push?

I floated the idea of quitting the business with friends and family. When one of my acquaintances suggested selling my cameras, I blurted out immediately. “Absolutely not! I’m still going to take photos,” I reacted as a mother protecting her offspring. I mentally threw my body across my cameras to ward off any possible attack or pillage.  

The process of sharing with the universe what I’d been thinking and feeling was productive. It helped me clarify what it was about my passion that had become problematic. It was the business. I no longer liked the work involved getting ready for a shoot or the work following a shoot. I can honestly say I did enjoy photo sessions with clients. There were a few exceptions, but very few.

And I really loved the results, the photos themselves, even though I spent far too much time assuring those results were as pleasing as possible. I still find myself admiring the beautiful moments I was able to capture with my camera. I can look at a photo and feel awestruck knowing I shared in the creation of something memorable. At times, it’s wondrous to me that I was the one behind the camera.

Photography is a gift given to me quite by accident, something I fell into without a plan. Taking landscape photos turned into family photography and later, wedding photography. Pet photos became a real joy as I volunteered, and continue to volunteer, as a photographer at the local animal shelter. There were times when I would have a dozen sessions a week and feel completely overwhelmed. It was a race to get all the photos edited and forwarded to clients via my website within the promised timeframe.

But as I started contemplating letting go of the business, the calls and email requests died off, even before I made any public announcement. The universe was providing evidence - it was time.

Two other factors played part in the decision making. I finally had an MRI of my right foot, after limping around for nine months. The finding was a torn tendon, also known as flat foot dysfunction which might require surgery. I’ve begun physical therapy and am determined to avoid surgery. It would involve taking bone from my hip, other complicated procedures, and being on the mend for the better part of a year. At any rate, the idea of being on my feet now for more than a couple hours at a time ruled out continuing with wedding photography. Thankfully my good friend Shelly, with whom I’ve partnered on wedding shoots over the years, was able to step in and shoot the two weddings I had already booked for July.

The second factor was my husband Scott. His mobility is compromised a great deal more than mine. He has minimal lung capacity because of COPD/emphysema and difficulty moving anyway because of arthritic hips and a prosthetic leg. We decided it would be better for him to move downstairs into the master bedroom that served as my photography studio. It’s closer to his bathroom and “man cave” recording studio. Without my indoor studio, it was clear - my rainy season business would be as good as gone.

In late June, I noticed a new photography studio next to my nail salon, stopped in and picked up a card with the idea they might need some equipment. By the end of the week, the husband and wife team visited my studio and decided to buy everything I had to sell. They paid cash and hauled it all away.

I was able to repaint the bedroom and get it ready for Scott. By the end of the next week, Scott’s daughter, Summer, came over to help him in his studio. She told us her community was having a garage sale at the end of the week to help one of their neighbors raise money for medical bills. That’s all I needed. I filled Summer’s car to the brim with studio props. A couple days later I took another carload to the community sale. Within a ten day period in early July, my studio was dismantled, equipment sold and Scott moved downstairs.

My daughter, Kendall, lists one of my character traits as “decisive.” In other words, very little can stop me, once I make up my mind.  I just do it (sometimes not getting the best result). This time I’m convinced there were other factors at work. In giving up the photography business, I don’t believe I was decisive, but more part of a process. I shared my feelings with others and circumstances and events unfolded to show the direction in which I needed to go.

One of the last indicators I was making the right decision came a couple weeks ago. I climbed the stairs to my front porch. Just below the porch light had been my “Welcome” sign which also read, “Bonnie King Photography.” It was gone! A brief search found it nestled behind my petunia planter just below where it hung. It simply fell down. If that isn’t a “sign,” I don’t know what is.

This week I took down my street-side sign, the one just below the waterfall. It didn’t want to come out of the ground peacefully, so a sledge hammer was my convincer. By this time, my decisiveness had kicked in.

Now there’s the question of what to do with the decals on my Smart Car. She sports Abbey, the dog, on the back window and little sweetie, Allison, on both sides advertising Bonnie King Photography. Eyelashes adorn the front headlights. This is a tough decision.  I love that little girl’s laughing face. I definitely get more smiles to the mile. Eventually, when I have a couple hours to scrape, use Orange Clean or Goof Off and 90% alcohol as advised by the folks who put the decals on the car, the decals will go, but for the fun of it, the eyelashes will stay.

I’ve put notices on my Facebook page and website that I’m out of business, while reassuring those clients I still have booked that I won’t leave them stranded. My website will continue to be available for some time and I’m referring all photo requests to Shelly Luthi Photography.

So what's calling my name now, beckoning instead of irritating? Friends At Your Metro Animal Shelter (FAYMAS), the non-profit officially launched a year ago with Chris Lynch, continuing as the animal shelter photographer, and shooting fun photos of family, friends and some artsy subjects. Our home remodel is ongoing, Scott needs attention (which he denies) and I am intending to get back to work on my dad’s story as well as my own.

Funny - how life unfolded for me since retiring in 2008. The planning that was so important most of my life has become more process than plan. And now I’m blessed with time to trust the process, reflect on what’s happening (particularly when I’m writing), and see where it leads me. Wherever that is, it’s where I’m supposed to be – it’s time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The end of June found me, my sister Lore, and our friend Shelly winging our way to Missoula, Montana for a quick visit with my daughter, Courtney, and her family.

"Corky" and family moved in March to the small town of Alberton, just 20 minutes from the metropolis of Missoula. Ron grew up in Alberton and his family roots run wide and deep in this village of 400 people - most of them his relatives.

There are no stop lights in Alberton. I don't even recall seeing any stop signs. There's one feed store, one church, two restaurants and two bars, but we only made it to one of the bars run by a relative of Ron's.

And I can't forget to mention - one amazing building full of used books. The book shelves run from the floor to a 12 foot ceiling. The basement is full too. There's no computer system to find the books, just categories to browse. A pull chain hangs from fluorescent lights in each row to save on electricity. The woman who waited on us told of a fellow who went to the basement, came back out, went to his car and came back in again with a head lamp on. He didn't realize he had to turn on the lights in the basement!

We arrived Friday evening. The air was dry and still hot, somewhere in the 90's. The prediction was the temperature would be over 100 degrees Saturday and Sunday. Although the Evans' Mountain Meadows rental home has no air conditioning, the electric fans did the job and we slept comfortably. Ron took Shelly and I on a coffee run early Saturday morning and a trip down memory lane as he showed us his family homestead. He told stories of hunting mountain goats, fishing and living in a teepee for a period of time while a log cabin was being built. He is so at home and so happy to be there. Corky's pioneer spirit is alive and well in Montana and its' obvious they've made a good choice.

Ben is loving the life too. He hates to come inside, has a blast in the 7500 gallon above ground pool, feeds his chickens, dogs Giant and Lulu; and cat, Bruce (who happens to be female). He goes fishing with dad and big brother, Ryan. He'll undoubtedly become a hunter too, not to mention he's already sharpening his pool game at the local bar.

The one day we had in Alberton was fun and memorable. The "kids" had borrowed my vehicle and trailer to haul furniture in March so Ron hitched them up for us on Sunday and we hit the road after a terrific breakfast at the local restaurant.

I spent most of my grade school years in Montana, so I remember vividly the hot summers and cold winters. It's not a place I see myself living any time soon, but I'm certainly happy for the Evans family. They're loving life in "God's Country" and loving each other. What more could anyone ask!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Changing Tastes

My tastes have changed over the past 60 + years - in clothes, colors, men and music. I could elaborate on my changing taste in men, as one of my daughters has encouraged me to do, but there's way too much to tell (or not) and I'm saving that for a memoir.

Until two years ago, I didn't care for jazz. The discordance was too untidy. I couldn't follow the logic and since it seemed most songs didn't have words, how could I sing along!

Listening to National Public Radio (NPR) changed all that. I've become hooked on the news coverage morning and evening, the in-depth reporting of unique and interesting topics, the humor of Click and Clack on Saturday mornings and the lively exchanges on Saturday afternoon broadcasts. I listen to the radio as I drive around town, which I do a lot. And most of my driving time is mid-day when only jazz emanates from my car radio. The more I've listened, the more I've come to appreciate the soothing sounds. I'm also amazed at how many of the older jazz tunes sound familiar. My father loved to listen and sing along with his records in the evening. He's probably responsible for my appreciation of music, including jazz classics.

In the fifties, when we got our first TV - black and white of course, one of my family's favorite shows was the Hit Parade. The top hits of the day were sung by the regulars on the show. They would sing the top ten songs of the week. Some songs stayed at the top of the charts for weeks and the challenge for the show was to create a new scene and way of presenting the same song over and over again. Watching was fun for that reason alone. How many ways can you portray, How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

What also happened was that certain songs were forever embedded in my brain. One of those songs has become a staple for myself and my daughters. When I'm dancing with my grandchildren, there's that tune, just as it was when I was dancing with Courtney and Kendall when they were little.

One night I was late.
Came home from a date.
Slipped out of my shoes at the door.
Then from the front room, I heard a jump tune.
I looked in and here's what I saw.
There in the night was a wonderful scene.
Mom was dancing with dad to my record machine.
And as they danced, only one thing was wrong.
They were trying to waltz to a rock and roll song!
One, two and then rock. One, two and then roll.
They did the rock and roll waltz.
Rock two three. Roll two three
They looked so cute to me.
I love the rock and roll waltz.

Perhaps the song also appealed to me because my dad used to grab my mom and dance her around the room to whatever song was playing at the time. He may have been in his work clothes and she in her house dress and apron, but it didn't matter.

So even though my music preferences have changed over the years from the Beetles and other "Golden Oldies" to country (because I could understand the words) and now to jazz, the one song that stands out above all others is The Rock and Roll Waltz. (Now I'll probably have to pay a royalty!)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jeans fly. Socks don't

Jeans fly. Socks not so much. Bras do better than socks.

I've learned all this from experience and having Uncle Charlie as a pet. As he's aged we never know where he might end up doing his "thing." He favors the TV and living room carpets. No amount of stain and odor remover or essence of oil so strong it takes weeks to dissipate the hideous aroma, deter his sense of smell! Charlie is deaf, blind in one eye and can't see out of the other. A friend wisely informed me that when certain senses diminish, what's left gets stronger. Hmmmm - wish that were true for me too.

I finally found a great looking extendable gate on that now graces the living room entrance. It does give our living room a museum look, but that's appropriate since it gets used about twice a year when we have large family gatherings and everyone can't fit into the kitchen.

My solution for the TV room was to use the child gate we'd installed at the top of the stairs to keep grandchildren corralled. They have all since figured out how to open and close that one, even better than Scott and some of our visitors. "Just squeeze the upper and lower levers together at the same time, " I explain time and again. No explanation was needed for my two brilliant grandsons and I know my granddaughter, who's verging on genius, would have figured it out, but since the boys usually left it open, there has been no need for her to trouble herself. Smart girl.

Charlie also likes to lick. It's not just the friendly lick of your face which I love, it's "I'm going to lick any and every piece of clothing left on or near the floor." I hang my clothes up or at least perch them high enough on a chair back that I don't have a problem. On the other hand, Scott is known for leaving whatever he takes off wherever it lands. That's usually on the floor. His underwear or his bathrobe or you name it, when retrieved in the morning is always accompanied by the air turning blue. You know what I mean. Good thing Charlie is deaf or he might be offended. Needless to say, he pays absolutely no attention to the outpouring of anything but love.

I tried to placate Scott by saying, "Some people have grit. You're just an 'Old Salt'... and Charlie likes it!" Since that doesn't work, gate number three was installed on the utility room door to keep good ole Charlie penned in at night. Since I put Charlie to bed before I get undressed, I would have to step over the gate - which is about crotch high - to put my clothes in the open hamper on the other side of the room. So I've learned first hand what flies and what doesn't. Jeans sail much better than socks. And I'm getting pretty good at flinging bras.