More iPhone Camera Fun

More Fun with iPhone Camera & Apps

Camera Bag App using the ‘Cinema’ Setting:

My Dad
Photogene App:
Skip (a friend’s dog), puzzled.
pizza dinner for the rest of us.

a work in progress 
Camera Bag and Photogene are two photography applications that make the iPhone camera photos a whole lot of fun. These are just a few of the effects each app can do. At $2.99 each, these are affordable applications if you enjoy manipulating or publishing your photos.  The iPhone’s camera takes decent pictures if you have good light, for a basic point and shoot cell phone camera.  The apps take it all to the next level.  Big fun!

The Lump in Her Throat

It’s after midnight and so it’s already ‘tomorrow’ and that means he’s leaving, today.   She’ll take him to the airport where he’ll wave her off from a soppy goodbye, pushing her back to her car at the curb, urging her to be on her way.  She’ll try to delay as long as possible, watching him, if she can, til he disappears  through the sliding doors into the terminal.  She does this because she wonders if this will be the last time she ever sees him again and she wants to watch him until she can’t see him anymore.

Although she hasn’t really thought of him as being old, he’s old. She rarely thinks about his chronological age,  as he is very sharp and still helps with so many things such as tallying the Girl Scouts complicated cookie order, reconciling the books at his son’s company, getting out the level and the ladder to ascertain whether or not that picture in her living room really is hanging straight. (They both can see that it’s just a bit off.)  He accompanies her to the carpet stores where they dicker on prices per square foot and installation costs and he helps her think through such details as whether the  banister should be painted before the  carpet installation, or afterwards. He carries her samples to and from the store. He helps measure light fixtures and gives her good advice on their finishes.  It’s he who pointed out why the bronze metal was really  better suited to her house than the brushed nickel finish she was considering.  Her husband doesn’t notice such details, nor does her husband care.  So she when she wants another perspective she knows she can ask her Dad (if he’s visiting) because he’ll give her the thoughtful advice she’s after.  That’s what her Dad does. His advice is good and is never foisted.  It’s only given if asked and ask she does, because he has a global way of looking at things, of seeing all the angles and outcomes. This is what she likes.

But there’s no denying he’s aging.  She watches from the kitchen window as he walks his youngest grandchild to the bus stop every morning during his stay.  She sees an elderly man out there, walking. This gives her a start.  And when he returns he is sometimes so winded, she feels alarmed.  The bus stop is only one house away.  The short walk there and back takes so much out of him.  She watches him as he sinks into the Eames lounge to rest and recover, feeling her heart in her throat.

Then there’s the coughing.  During this most recent visit he’s been coughing more.  She knows he has a respiratory condition as the oxygen maker arrives at the house on the day he does.  He sleeps with the oxygen, supposing this helps his body overall,  but even he is skeptical of its efficacy.  She is concerned about the more frequent coughing.

His being with her in her home has become much more poignant since her mother, his beloved wife, died in May 2007.  She cannot believe it will soon be two years with her gone.  Since she left them for Heaven he’s been visiting regularly to her delight.  Lately, he’s been staying for two weeks, something he never would have done had her mother been living.  So it’s given them a new context: a closer one-on-one rapport, when before, she and her mother would have fallen in together with him happy enough to be on the periphery.  She now confides in him things she would never have said out loud to him, had her mother been around.  She figures, ‘what the heck’ and tells him that now he has to listen to her.  Lately he’s heard things from her that he probably would have rather not known, but he’s game and kind and she feels grateful she still has a parent to talk to.

Never mind the obvious aging of his physical self, he also talks freely and humorously about his own impending death.  The kind of death statements that make her laugh out loud for their utter truthfulness but does he have to be so…stark?  Oh, she realizes that behind the death talk are these truths: that he understands and embraces the belief of life everlasting and feels he’s mostly completed his life’s journey; he misses his wife; and accepts death as the last step before achieving his own eternal life.  Stuff he lives by, and has taught his kids and grandkids, and how can she argue with that?

So he makes her laughcry with his death talk and then she gets serious and tells him that she’s not ready for him to go, that she doesn’t want to be an “orphan” just yet (silly talk from someone who’s not young anymore anyway), that she needs him and wants him and will miss him so much when he does go.  And then he tells her that he supposes one is never quite ready (for the death of a loved one), but that she’ll be okay.

So she gamely drives him to the airport and tries to press him for a tentative timeframe for his next visit. He doesn’t commit.  He’s busy enough at home,  and she’s glad for that.  At eighty and a half, the guy is still driving to the office every day, is playing golf and bridge, and enjoys spending time with all his grandkids.  And these grandkids love him, and the older ones have brought their friends to meet him, and they love him too. He makes an impression where ever he goes.

At the airport she snaps picture after picture which she knows he doesn’t like, but tolerates.  He leaves her with a kiss, tells her to go home and get on with her life (nice) and then makes a funny, uncharacteristic comment (that was originally uttered by his own brother – who was known for his colorful language – many years earlier to an overeager photographer at a family wedding), “Get that f*ing camera out of my face!”

It’s an inside joke, wholly unlike who he really is. But it made her smile instead of cry and it was good. 

Beachlife Today

After the “bone chilling” cold of last week the temperatures are back in the temperate 60s.  Still, some beachlifers have higher aspirations:
When we first moved to Atlantic Beach and were being shown around by our Realtor we giggled at seeing the people out and about wearing hats and mittens when temps were in the mid 50s.  He, being from Ohio and therefore someone who understands winters, said of them, a bit mockingly, “They think it’s winter here.”  Oh how we laughed, exhilarated by the idea of moving here, where the prospect of winter temps in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s was thrilling. Since living here and indeed loving it, we do know that the cold can come but it never lasts very long.  We actually like a bit of a freeze as it kills off the insects that can become real pests come warm weather.  It’s like a natural cleansing.  I’m sorry to say that we have become them, though.  You can find me shivering with my parka and mittens on even if I just drive through Starbucks. Pathetic.  I know.
Today there was a swell and several surfers were wet suiting up to catch some waves.  It was misty and it felt chillier than its 67 degrees, but was a pretty afternoon on the beach.

Playing with the iPhone app Camera Bag:
The second image is a copy of the first, using the Helga format, taken on Atlantic Beach this afternoon.  

The last two shots are identical; the last of the two is using Camera Bag’s Helga setting. Camera Bag is a fun and inexpensive app with about a dozen settings to play with. 

Do you like ‘Helga’s’ images?  How fun is this, for a camera phone?!

iPhone Pictures Not Half Bad

The little iPhone’s camera is quite a serviceable device.  My Canon Elph, ironically, broke practically the day I welcomed iPhone to my life.  Well, it works, but who wants to look through the tiny viewfinder when you really use the large LCD screen for all your “major” photography work? (Can one actually call her point & shoot digital pictures ‘work’ with a straight face?)  So the LCD screen is displaying the ‘shattered glass’ image, rendering the camera worthless to me now. Goodbye macro images, no more videos, nothing, really.  I enjoyed playing with it for two and half years (shouldn’t it have lasted longer than that?) but secretly, I’ve been longing for better equipment.  In the meantime I’m perfectly pleased to use the iPhone’s camera as the everyday-in-my-purse-camera and hope for a digital SLR for my birthday (if it be God’s will that I should get one ;-).

The iPhone’s applications are so useful and amusing.  I just put Camera Bag on it which will display your photos  in all kinds of fun ways.  I’ll post some Camera Bag effects images over the weekend.

I’d like to ask my vast readership (Rosie, this means you!  Oh and you too Mary, if you’re here! Anyone: leave your thoughts and opinions!) for any and all opinions on digital SLRs.  My birthday isn’t until May so I’ve got time to research and plan (and earn some money, ahem).  I really don’t know much about them beyond the Canon and Nikon name brands.  My original film SLR is a Canon A-E 1 and I still have it (it’s in pristine condition and looks so vintage to me now).  

(…Er, wait a minute, I just did the math.  That Canon looks vintage because it is vintage.)

Longing for a real camera but grateful for my iPhone.

Just Snow Already

Indulge me a moment, if you will, while I complain about the cold weather.  I know, I live in Florida and enjoy a lovely Atlantic beachlife, but it’s totally cold here.  I realize that much of the country is suffering from frigid temperatures and a very cold winter overall but we just aren’t prepared for temperatures near 20 degrees.  It kills our tropical plants if we don’t cover them (I do get rather attached to my landscape, particularly my Pygmy date palms and gingers).  But the worst thing about the cold is the cold in this house.

It’s not warm in here. What’s the problem?  Could it be the high ceilings?  Is the heat that is pouring continuously from the furnace (there go the Benjamins) gathering up there?  It is, as it’s cozy warm in the house’s second story, in the kids’ rooms, but in the Master bedroom the temperature last night was fifty-eight degrees when I dove into bed and under the covers. That’s 58 degrees in the room, when it was in the 20s outside.  Other rooms in this house are absolutely frosty.  We cannot even go into our “sun room”.  I can feel the brisk air from that room creeping into the kitchen from the crack between the french doors that separate the rooms.  It’s too bad, too, since that’s where the family TV is (and it’s a good TV, too, a new one, a big one…but no one wants to brave the cold in there.)

We are shivering in front of the space heaters several hours a day.  And for the first time ever (last night) I kept the space heater running in the bedroom all night long.  I don’t mind chilly when I’m sleeping but fifty-eight degrees?  Um, no.

Tonight it promises to be even colder and the weather reports this is the coldest cold this area’s seen in a quarter century.  We’ve been living Atlantic beachlife for eight winters now and while it has gotten colder at times than I’d thought Florida would be, it’s not been like this.  At this point I wish it would just snow and thrill the kids.  You should have heard them this morning when I pointed out a frozen puddle.  Heck, you should have heard me this morning when I saw it.  Then I drove past an unfortunate neighbor’s house,  who’d forgotten the irrigation was set to ‘on’ and had a lovely icile-laden landscape.  It really was quite the scene, here at the beach.  Being from the north I’m familiar with such vignettes but the kids I had with me were thrilled.  

My lovely little Weather Bug app on the iPhone indicates the temperatures are on the way up for later in the week and on into the weekend.  It appears things will be back where they belong for the third week of January. I check this thing several times a day (it’s 33 degrees at the moment) which means it’s officially just five degrees colder than it is in Michigan (home state).  This is global warming?  Weather Bug predicts a low of 20 degrees here in Atlantic Beach tonight.  

Certainly we’re fortunate that we do have a (fairly) warm place to sleep; we aren’t sleeping outside or in a shelter.  But I’ll be happy when the frost is off our windows and it no longer feels like the outside, inside.  


When I first met Maureen she was a red head with an edgy pixie haircut, and supershort precision bangs.  I can’t remember how long it took me to trot off her to stylist for a copycat look.  She didn’t mind.  (Probably because she wore it better than I.) Somewhere I have the picture that was taken of us the night I got the hair cut.  I’d gone from an unflattering blond to a dark brunette.  (I may have thought the style would look better in a more saturated color?)  She was still red. We were both smiling.  I’m guessing she was flattered that I’d copied her look for never did I sense otherwise. It was a fun cut but in the end, I couldn’t carry it off the way Maureen did.  I let mine grow while she maintained some form of a geometric cut that I so coveted but finally accepted was not my signature.

I think I met Maureen at her college graduation party.  We must have been invited there by the guy she was dating.  Her parents asked guests to sign a guest book of sorts, to pass on some wisdom to their new graduate. The only wisdom I could think of to tell someone I didn’t know was, “Never leave your makeup bag in the car on a hot summer day.” It was one of those kind-of-funny half truths that I somehow felt she would understand. She loved it.  It made us fast friends.

Later she married my husband’s friend, had a stylish wedding and then bought an older home in a borderline historical neighborhood in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan.  It was gotten for a good price from the original owner who hadn’t done a thing to it since the 1920s (or some such) and soon the sledgehammers were flailing. Its ancient kitchen was replaced with an ‘oh my god’ kind of unique creation straight from the pages of…well, no magazine I’d been familiar with thus far in my life (I only had a plain suburban home and wasn’t yet into my own home re-design phase).  Back in the ’90s there were no HGTV-type redesign shows (not that I was ever aware of) so watching Maureen mastermind this renovation (at her young age, too) was quite…astonishing. For sure my own design urges started when I saw what she did with this house. The brand new kitchen was amazing with its unique elements there, and in every other room. Maureen had an innate sense of style and design and a sense for the unexpected, combining disparate elements into a beautiful and cohesive space that was unique and completely her own.  No detail in a room was left was left to chance, every piece and fixture seemed to have a story.  I loved that. I watched her transform room after room with envy of her skill and her budget. My own suburban home seemed plain and unremarkable by comparison.  Hers was a house of good bones, character. It’s because of Maureen that I only want to buy quality paint today. She was an artist and loved her Pratt and Lambert fan deck.  Whether it’s worth it, or not, I don’t know. It’s just one of those things I remember of her.

Naturally her mostly completed home was worthy of the Tour of Homes held in her neighborhood the following holiday season.  But for her, I think, art and design was inherent in who she was and so probably her home and spaces were always evolving, part of her journey. 

While waiting for our son to come I finally got to create a nursery.  I shopped and shopped for just the right bedding (very important you know), unmoved by all the typical juvenile images.  I wanted something different, edgier.  I was probably channelling Maureen but I did manage to find something completely delightful that I would choose again, today (so that’s gotta tell you something). I asked Maureen to do some creative painting in his room, based on the designs of harlequin diamonds, fleur-de-lis, and non baby-like graphic imagines lifted from the comforter and bedding fabric.  I knew I wanted something different, and I trusted that Maureen would have the vision.  

She spent two days in that bedroom and when it was over we had the coolest painted nursery I had ever seen yet.  She did an enormous harlequin diamond on the ceiling: four individual diamonds in colors from the bedding, painted together to create one, very huge diamond shape that our son could gaze it from his crib.  She then did a freestyle border painting of the curliques, fleur-de-lis, the harlequins and other shapes in the bedding, all around the room, halfway up the wall. I was entirely thrilled with the outcome. She had the amazing ability to pick up a paintbrush and with equanimity  brush and dab on just the right things to pull the design together.  No practicing.  No mistakes.  No worries.  She just did it.  I watched it come together just like that.  It had taken me two tries just to get the wall color right! (And it was only yellow.)   But Maureen came in, used red, black, purple and green (Pratt and Lambert of course) and left me with a room I could not have imagined. Naturally exceeded my expectations, and was certainly nothing I’d ever have envisioned left to my own imaginings.

Later she taught me to paint  designs on the walls of our guest bathroom. I remember being in there with her, following her lead as she intuitively placed a design here, then over here, and then right there, until together we completed that small room.  It all came so naturally to her.  Spending times like this with her certainly helped me to think about design for my own life, given my own architectural elements and all that stuff. She had the gift for sure. 

We were good friends in the sense of context.  Married to two college buddies, she was someone I could connect with on some level of personal compatibility.  We shared similar superficial interests that made conversation fun and interesting.  It’s not always like that when you’re thrown together with people due to circumstances.  I’d met and liked Maureen’s mother and her style, had met her sister, and also her good friend, Spring.  I’m remembering all this as I write.  Did we know each other as in really know each other?  I don’t think so.  I don’t believe either of us were fully formed as adults just yet, me being such a late bloomer and her being so young, still.  So our opinions and values were still nascent, I think. We shared many times together, but then we moved away, and they divorced after a short marriage. I knew she’d stayed in touch with one of her former husband’s friends.  We reconnected via e mail a few years later, but it wasn’t regular.

I knew she’d married again, to a guy with kids, and that she was wanting a baby (she told me) and got a puppy.  Not that she didn’t love the dog, she did, she sent me a picture of it. But now I’d grown up some and had gained some wisdom and I remember wondering to myself, hoping for her sake, that the puppy didn’t represent the child she really wanted.  I got the sense that her husband was done with all that: he’d had his children already and they were teens.  It seemed he had an interesting career as a developer of new loft properties in an older suburban Detroit community, and I remember thinking that that would suit her.  But I don’t really know. We weren’t in the same circle anymore: divorce, suburban Detroit and Atlantic beachlife.  But I was glad to hear from her occasionally.  Still, it had been a few years since our last contact, when I heard she had cancer.

It was my husband who told me, and he isn’t a man of much detail in conversation. I’m sure that when he was told of Maureen’s cancer diagnosis he didn’t ask for any further information as I would have.  Still, I was left with the impression that it “wasn’t serious”, somehow.  It was something you hear about someone you used to know.  I wouldn’t have contacted her about it, anyway, as our relationship had just faded away into natural closure.

Maureen died last Friday.  This news came to us yesterday via her former spouse who called my husband.  It was then that I learned she’d had ovarian cancer.  She was just 40.  I am left to my own memories of this girl and I feel shocked and so sad.  I want to write to her husband but there’s no information available via the internet.  Apparently there isn’t a funeral planned, “just something in two weeks,” reports my husband, leaving me unsettled.  I urged him to call another friend, a man we knew had maintained contact with Maureen all these years, someone who was her friend.  Not to pry, no, but to connect on a visceral level.  We know that her death has affected her former husband,  we suspect that it will move her friend deeply too.  We’re all getting older, things happen.  Cancer, accidents, divorce, addiction, struggles with children.  Family, friends and relationships with others are really all that matter when comes down to it.  We must reach out and try to connect in a meaningful way when someone is hurting, ill, dying or suffering in some other way.  

Maureen, our paths crossed for a few short years, and I enjoyed you.  I was envious of your talent, and admired your confidence.  You had such style, so effortless.  Did you have a happy life? I hope you didn’t suffer too much, and I do pray that your journey in life and even in your illness brought you meaning and blessings that held you.  I know you are now transformed.  I wish you peace.

Just Me and My Shadow…

…waving hello to you.