Japanese Garden through my mother’s eyes

Japanese Garden through my mother's eyes

Japanese Garden, Van Nuys, California. We returned to this great garden and while my 99 year old mother is mostly experiencing it through memory (she can’t walk or see well anymore) she enjoyed being wheeled around the paths.

I’m always trying to get new images of my mother but frankly, she’s declining and I’m having a tough time capturing her spirit.

I did like this reflection of the main pond at the garden in her sunglasses, and while she may not be seeing the detail this image shows, she’s taking it in through other senses and memory. Actually, she was nodding off when I took this.

Note: I cropped her mouth because if I catch her at the wrong moment her mouth has a less than attractive look; she knocked some teeth out in a fall and the resulting gap is unattractive.

Images of my mother, Frances

Just a quick note for followers of this site. I’ve just re-posted a lot of old content from my older self-hosted WordPress site here, including numerous posts with photographs of my mother, Frances going back many years.

They’re all tagged Frances.

I’ve not looked at all them in years and it’s fun to see the evolution of my photographic technique in photographing my now 99 year old mother (which isn’t easy to do).


My mother is 99!

My mother is 99!

Japanese Garden, Van Nuys, California. Yesterday, May 26, 2014 my mother had her 99th birthday. I took some great group shots of the wonderful family and friends who came over for her party, but in each one she was dozing off. So, this picture of her from today on our regular outing to this wonderful garden will do.

She’s almost blind in one eye, can’t walk at all on her own anymore and she’s fading into dementia but she’s still with it enough to tell me “enough with the pictures already!”

Frances at 98.6

Frances at 98.6

Los Angeles, California. This was taken at lunch on my last trip to LA three weeks ago. I’ll be there again this sunday for her 99th birthday. She’s definitely fading; dementia is setting in, but at this age I’m glad she still knows me. Marta (her helper) and I think she consciously chooses to tune in and out of conversations, using dementia as a resting place to fall back on.

Marta and Frances

Marta and Frances

Descanso Gardens, Flintridge, California. There’s something about this garden that’s very nice: lots in bloom, well maintained but not too formal, and plenty of trees to keep it cool and shaded which makes for better photography.

My almost 99 year old mother was tired so I didn’t push her to take her sunglasses off. Her helper, Marta is an amazing woman who has made it possible for my mother to continue living comfortably at home.

Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

The New Yorker has an excerpt of a new autobiographical graphic memoir by illustrator/cartoonist Roz Chast in the March 10, 2014 edition. It’s about her experience with aging parents, something Anne and I are going through right now. It’s full of humor and insight and compassion and its brilliant.

Here’s a link to the excerpt in The New Yorker: Sketchbook by Roz Chast

Here’s the book at Amazon (I pre-ordered it, it’s coming out in May): Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir.

This story is not unlike pieces of the award-winning graphic novel Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman which is a classic.

Descanso Gardens with Sony RX100 II

Flowers and leaves

Descanso Gardens, Flintridge, California.

It was a beautiful day to wheel my mother around these lovely gardens and unlike back home in Connecticut, here flowers were in bloom.

There was plenty of color but I’m very much into monochrome these days. The light on this small clump of flowers was compelling so I wheeled my mother into this little grove and spent ten minutes shooting here.

While the Sony RX100 II makes exceptionally fine images, it’s controls are less than wonderful compared with the Ricoh GR. It’s nice to have a second camera with a zoom lens but I reach for the Ricoh before the Sony most days if for no other reason, it’s easier to use/control.


My mother watching me take pictures

My almost 99 year old mother watching me take pictures

My mother at 98 +

Frances at lunch

Los Angeles, California. I’m on my monthly trip to visit my mother who’s 98, going on 99 in May. She’s doing fine although definitely slowing down and fading a bit more. However, she’s still got her spark and gives me crap about not driving fast enough on the freeway. When she stops bugging me I’ll be worried.

Frances at the Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden, Van Nuys, California. This traditional Japanese garden is part of a large water treatment plant. It’s an incredible place few people in LA seem to know about.

Because the water running through the garden is so “rich” birds come from all over to hang out there and this day there were many: cormorants, many kinds of ducks, grebes, snowy and great egrets, a few Allen hummingbirds, and many more.

After we wheel around the paths we sit inside the tea house and look out over the place. My mother discovered this place ten years ago and we’ve been coming ever since.

Birthday dinner through wine

Birthday dinner through wine

Los Angeles, California. Took my mother out for a low key birthday dinner at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. She was sitting against a wall on the other side of the table so shooting was tough. I made the best of it by shooting through her wine glass which was fun to do and got our neighbors interested in the Ricoh GR.

I know this image is nothing to write home about but I must say (again), I love this camera. It is a joy to use and if you’re in the market for a compact camera this is one to seriously consider. Great image quality, great ergonomics, very fast response time and not so small it’s like a calculator on a wristwatch and not so big it’s like a brick. Just right.

My mother is 98 today

My mother is 98 today

Los Angeles, California. Out to LA yet again, this time for my mother’s 98th birthday. Took a quick snapshot of her last night with the Ricoh GR in case I didn’t get anything good today (so far I haven’t although not for lack of trying).

She’s doing amazingly well for 98; went to a great Gary Baseman show at The Skirball Cultural Center today and we’re going out to dinner tonight.