I’ve notice that my photos pretty well capture my personal gravitational pull to cooler colors, especially the blues and the greens.  While I’ve avoided grays and blacks recently, I’ve never been one to instinctively choose from the neutral/brown family of colors.

Umbrella and blue sky, 9/13

In this wicked, relentless winter of 2014, my photos seem to be a record of a constant search for warmth.  As I’ve walked through properties with an eye to living in western PA, I’ve only taken photos of rooms that appeal the most.  Most of the photos include wood that runs the gamut from caramel to molasses in color, warming my imagination in many, many ways.

Over the past six weeks, we’ve walked through houses older than the ages of our four previous homes combined. Thus the spaces are tighter, the ceilings are lower, reflecting the goal of conserving warmth in times when the fireplace or the radiator were the only source of heat.  And as we’ve looked at homes that sheltered families for decades, our eyes, used to great rooms and fireplaces that start with the flip of the switch, can sometimes see those closer rooms as not just right.

photo (49)
Pius St fireplace, unfiltered

Finding the just-right for a couple, after years of looking for spaces that fit a growing family, is an interesting exercise in getting reacquainted.  City living?  Small town living? Condo close to work?  Longer weekday commute so we can just leave the cars parked for the weekend and walk wherever we wanted?  They are questions we’ve asked over and over for months and are still puzzling through.

The last time it was just us was 26 years ago when we purchased a rehabbed duplex in Jersey City.  It’s what we could afford and as we both worked in Newark it was an excellent reverse commute. It was a start.  But even then we were not alone, we were buying with an eye to those children we planned to have.  In the seven years we lived there, both kids came home from the hospital to the duplex, both kids learned to climb stairs on a 12 foot metal spiral staircase. Both kids had to adjust to the suburbs when we moved there in 1994. They may not remember that time in their lives as vividly as we do, but that duplex was the foundation for this family.

Those kids are grown, living in their own cities now.  And while we’ll always make space for them, the next home reflects us as a couple and what we ultimately choose will please ourselves.

It’s harder than we thought.  The fireplace above reminded me of that first home we made. MDR is thinking a little more space.  And that brought on more reacquainting questions: Would we fit in quickly in a small town that focuses on schools and children or would a city offer more variety in terms of the people we’ll meet?  Do we want to walk to a restaurant or are we willing to drive to find food we love?  It’s the little questions, personal to us that keep us on our toes.  Asking, always asking.

So we’ll keep looking and find the place that works. One with a little compromise from both sides built into the home we make next.

Pius St. fireplace, golden
Pius St. fireplace, golden

In the meantime, I took the fireplace photo, deepened the golds and browns and caramels I saw and tucked it away to remind me that first and foremost, we look for warmth.

The why of it, redux

This place has been silent for six long months.  I can see the dust in the corners and on the edges of the photos I’ve posted and left here.  The neglect was not purely intentional.  It started out, as always, with a simple “I’ll get to it later.”  But laters have a interesting, bold way of piling up until they teeter on the never, don’t they?

Excuses started piling up too — life is changing but I don’t want to discuss those changes in a public place or life is changing and I didn’t run that half-marathon and that’s a disappointment or simply, the dread, I just don’t wanna.

Really that last one wasn’t the case, I did wanna: but instead of taking the action, I spent time pushing away the need to write about my own life or loved ones’ lives and my feelings on all of it. That lead to a startled moment when I realized it wasn’t pushing away the need but instead I was boxing up that need, tamping down, using all my strength to make more room for what I was afraid to set free.  Then that space became so crowded with the unexpressed that I had to be careful not to even touch the sides of the box for fear I’d puncture it because even pin dot would allow the contents to spill out and I’d need to feel that unexpressed pain or joy or the out and out confusion.

Mainly I was scared that the unexpressed would cover my days in grays and blacks and browns.  And that as it wasn’t the way I saw my life therefore it wouldn’t be valid.

But in the tamping, in the tiptoeing, I forgot the important part of the colors in my world — you need those darker hues to shade things, give them nuance and a contrast.


Shading meant you had to dig a little below the surface, find the dimensions and explore them in order to make sense of them.  That sometimes a haze of gray or sepia is there to help me settle into reflection so that when that haze parts I’d be ready for vivid color once again.

And how did I remember that?  These days, my go-to way to re-embrace the world around me is snapping photos.  Then taking the time to add in the color I thought they missed.  photo (46)

Part of the changes in my life has meant living in the Pittsburgh area for a good deal of January.  From what I understand, Pittsburgh deals with grey clouds on a daily basis, but the first month of 2014 brought bitter cold along with the gray.  The permafrost didn’t just pertain to the air and the roads, but a kind of inner freeze that kept me rooted in a place I didn’t know without the back up of the things I loved.

Last Wednesday, while the cold stayed put, the clouds parted and the sun shone for most of the day.  I thought, the heck with it, just take a photo of winter, stepped out of my car and shot the photo above from the parking lot of our temporary home.

Back inside, I wanted the picture to reflect how I really saw the afternoon so I played with filters to pull the blue through, upped the contrasts and increase the coolness of the blue to come up with this:

IMG_1844It made me happy to translate what I saw into a vivid photo. It reminded me that a blog is a place to examine the events in my world and present them in ways that are vivid, vibrant and above all, valid.

And so we start anew.