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Frances Wanderman eulogy

For those of you following along, my mother passed away last Friday night.

I had made a pre-arrangement ten years ago with a funeral home in Los Angeles and they handled everything including getting her safely and on time to New York for a service held graveside for her burial.

I flew her remaining first cousin and his wife out as well as my mother’s helper for the past eight years so they could take part in her burial. Many relatives came who I’ve not seen in 20 plus years as well as friends and my own extended family. It was a nice group.

Members of the group told stories about my mother, and her cousin who is a spritely 87 played his ukulele and sang a song he’d written for her.

I knew I’d be a bit wiped out and upset so I wrote and read a eulogy which is below.

I can say with little doubt that my mother would have been very pleased with this service and on her next birthday (May 26th) we’ll put a stone on her grave.

My almost 99 year old mother watching me take pictures

Frances Wanderman Eulogy, as read by her son Richard at her burial

It will be debated whether my mother was manic, ADHD, or just driven by high energy and insatiable curiosity but she had an unquenchable thirst for experience. What my wife calls “whiplash of the senses” my mother might not even notice.

She wanted her gravestone to say: “She loved life” and when we make the stone it will include those words.

Speaking of words, my mother loved them and it would flatter her to hear that people thought she had great character but it would not offend her to be called “a character” which she certainly was.

My wife taught me how to live, my mother tried but it didn’t take, but my mother taught me how to open myself up to experience the world and to value my own experience and it did take and I thank her for that.

Living 101 years can give a person perspective and my mother took great advantage of that perspective every chance she got.

She experienced the birth of commercial airline travel all the way to men routinely walking on the moon.

She didn’t walk on the moon although if it would have been possible she’d have been the first person to sign up. She did travel the world and loved every county she visited.

She experienced Russia and Ukraine turning into the Soviet Union which she couldn’t visit and then back into Russia and Ukraine which she did visit to see the town her mother was born in.

She proofed and edited John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row on a pile of yellow pads while at Viking Press but also got to experience reading on an iPad.

She experienced the birth of the interstate highway system and the birth of the internet.

She visited every national park, her favorite was Death Valley, and she connected with friends all over the world via letters and postcards as well as email and she had a large worldwide fan club on Flickr.

She experienced and took part in the early civil rights movement and she lived long enough to vote for and experience two terms of Barack Obama.

She had a finely honed intuitive sense of what would be good, dragging me to Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts at Carnegie hall, seeing Hair at the Aquarius theater, Rent on Broadway, Doubt at the Forum, the King Tut show at the Met, the Picasso show at MoMA, hundreds of other plays, hundreds of movies, hundreds of books, gallery openings and almost anything that looked like it might be interesting. She was there.

The few times she visited us at our house in rural Connecticut she would remark: “How can you live here, there’s nothing to do.” We did take her canoeing on a lake near us once and she liked it, but she couldn’t wait to move on to New York.

She was a loyal daughter, sister, wife, mother and aunt who believed strongly in actively keeping family and friends together which she did through correspondence, phone calls, frequent family dinners at her house and frequent trips to New York for as long as she could travel.

She was a creature of habit: up early, breakfast of cut orange, Special K, prunes and decaf, then into bed with paper and the daily morning phone call to cousin Doris.

Frances to Doris: “Are you still alive?
Doris to Frances: “Yeah, how about you?”
Frances to Doris: “Barely.”

Then they’d go on talking for an hour.

Her indulgence was lunch out almost every day, the same half tuna sandwich and blended mocha.

She routinely saw Saturday matinees with cousins Bob and Mary, even after she couldn’t see the picture or hear the sound. And, always remarked at the end, “that was the best movie I ever saw.”

She had a great sense of humor and wasn’t ashamed to say she enjoyed The Three Stooges but also cartoons in The New Yorker. In fact, she enjoyed being outrageous and her use of language, while sophisticated could be colorful.

It was her wish to stay in her own house until the end of her life and as she got older and lost the ability to drive, she hired Marta Daniel to work for her. I was concerned about this because to say my mother could be “difficult” is an understatement. But, they made a great life together and Marta was with her for the last years of her life.

Marta was there when my mother needed her but still allowed my mother to do her own routines and run her own life for as long as she could. There is no question that one of the reasons my mother lived until 101 was that Marta was there for her.

My mother gave me explicit instructions on what she wanted done at her passing:

“I want to be wearing this white dress and this yarmulka Anne made.”

“Send me to Brooklyn and don’t bury me next to my sister Bunny or at my parents’ feet, I want to be next to my father.”

In typical fashion, she would then follow up with:

“Listen, once I’m gone do whatever you want. If it’s too much trouble to send me to Brooklyn cremate me. I’ll never know the difference.”

My mother led a terrific life and was a terrific mother to me and it’s only right that her last wish be granted: she’s right next to her father wearing Anne’s yarmulke and the white dress although Mt. Hebron is in Flushing, not Brooklyn.

Zun Lee

InFrame – Zun Lee from InFrame on Vimeo.

This is a brilliant video, well worth watching. Zun Lee is a physician, self-taught photographer and visual storyteller based in Toronto. His story is incredible and incredibly well told through narration, video, and still images.

He’s also up on Flickr: Zun Lee.

Note: he’s using a Ricoh GR in many of the scenes in the video, my favorite camera.

[via PetaPixel]

NUMMI 2015

NUMMI 2015

This is a brilliant segment of This American Life in collaboration with Frank Langfitt and NPR news.

A car plant in Fremont California that might have saved the U.S. car industry. In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: How it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. Frank Langfitt explains why GM didn’t learn the lessons—until it was too late.

Wikipedia has a nice history of the NUMMI plant.

The NUMMI plant was bought by Tesla and their cars are now made there. Here’s a video of production of the Tesla Model S in the same plant.

Minka

Minka from Birdling Films on Vimeo.

A film about place and memory, a farmhouse in Japan, and the lives of the people who called it home.

Mika is a beautiful documentary by Davina Pardo about the history of a friendship looked at through the lens of an old farmhouse in Japan. It’s beautifully told and filmed and I can honestly say that it made me cry.

Well worth watching.

Update: Minka translated is “house of the people.” It’s a traditional Japanese house.

[via Laurie Fais]

Caitlin and Macintosh

Caitlin and Macintosh

Caitlin and her dad’s Macintosh at The Forman School, Litchfield, Connecticut, around 1986

I was scanning some other old photographs and came across this one, had to scan it and once done, had to tell the story of it.

In 1985 I was hired by a small boarding school for dyslexic high school students to put in a Macintosh lab and design a writing curriculum using Macs for the particular needs of those kids. The person who hired me was Caitlin’s mother Laurie and for the next two years Laurie and I built that early program together. In the process, I got to know her family well and her oldest daughter Caitlin and I became close friends.

Laurie’s husband, Eric was also an early Mac geek and so they had this Mac Plus in a small office that they all shared. When her dad was off at work Caitlin took over.

Caitlin’s family left the school shortly after I did. They moved to Kyoto, Japan for Eric to join a telecommunications laboratory doing research on the physical aspects of making language (he’s a research linguist). Caitlin and her two sisters became fluent in Japanese. We visited them there (pre digital photography) and I have yet to scan the pictures but I hope to at some point.

Caitlin came back to the US for college before the rest of her family and, well, the rest we’ll leave for another story.

Here’s a post I did on her in between these two images: Caitlin laughing.

Of course time marches on and Caitlin and her husband are building a homestead in North Carolina where they live with their sons, dog, chickens, and at least a few iPhones if not a lot more geekery.

Note: I’m guessing I took this with an Olympus XA. Even though I brought a MacVision and surveillance video camera with me from Oregon to Connecticut, it was a rather awkward setup for still photography.

Caitlin and Axton

Caitlin and Axton, New Woodstock, New York, 2013

My friend Caitlin Bateson and her son Axton at her grandfather’s memorial gathering in upstate New York.

Talk about an “arc of time.” Put the previous picture together with this one and it’s a mind blow.

I’ve known Caitlin since 1985.

Jon at Blue Bottle

Jon at Blue Bottle

Jon Moss at Blue Bottle Coffee (2014)

We met up with a “Flickr friend” who I’ve known for close to ten years who was visiting New York recently. After walking the High Line we went in for coffee at the hip, Blue Bottle Coffee in Hell’s Kitchen (I like Peet’s better but that’s just me).

I joined Flickr in 2004 and sometime in that first year I joined the Canon DSLR Group. In that group I met a number of people who have remained my online and offline friends to this day. None of us shoot Canon DSLRs anymore which is an interesting side story. One of them, a chap from Hull, England, Jon Moss got in touch in 2007 when he was coming to New York to buy some new camera equipment (at B&H of course).

Jon Moss at Ten Mile River

Jon Moss at Ten Mile River Station (2007)

We’d never met but I had a sense that Jon was a decent guy and so, invited him up to Connecticut for a visit on that trip and here’s that post: Jon Moss at Ten Mile River.

Jon at Macricostas Preserve

Jon at Macricostas Preserve (2007)

After unboxing all of his new gear I took him out to our local nature preserve to try it all out: Jon at Macricostas Preserve.

Two dudes with their weapons

Two dudes with their weapons (2007)

I’ll jump at any chance for a trip to New York so Anne and I accompanied Jon back to the city for his return trip: Two dudes with their weapons.

These days its very hip to get down on Flickr as an example of a great web service that peaked and sank after being acquired by Yahoo. This is most certainly true and Flickr’s photo sharing technology is way behind the times. But, like all of the other social networking tools, Flickr allowed and continues to allow people from all over the world to get to know one another through their photography and for that it remains one of the best tools out there. The fact that I’ve met quality people like Jon through Flickr speaks for itself.

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

I saw this trailer on Devour, found the documentary on Netflix and Anne and I watched it the other night.

The jaw-dropping true story of a real-life “Bad News Bears,” this inspiring documentary recounts the history of the Portland Mavericks, an independent professional baseball team that broke attendance records in 1973 with a roster that included a blacklisted former Yankee pitcher, a left-handed catcher, the sport’s first female general manager, and young movie star Kurt Russell, whose actor father Bing was the scrappy team’s owner.

I’m not a big sports fan and even though I lived in Eugene, Oregon during the time this team played in Portland, I’d never heard of them. That said, this documentary is a must. An amazing story, well told, about an amazing time and an amazing team.