Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chandler Photo

I've started a blog dedicated entirely to my film cameras and photos. Check out Chandler Photo when you have the time!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Cooking

I shan't claim to be a better cook than you are (my husband will attest otherwise). However, if you're looking forward to 40+ days of lentil soup, I will claim to be a better vegan cook than you are. I've heard it said that we should think about food less during Lent, but I don't doubt that we think about it more. That actually works just fine in my mind: Why not think more about the food we're preparing rather than mindlessly stuffing another cheeseburger into our mouths? Ah, Orthodoxy--we make paradox work.

BEANS: Okay, branch out from the damn lentil, for goodness sake. Last Lent I only ate lentils once, and it was in the form of lentil sprouts I made in my pantry. Make your own refried beans with pinto beans. Split pea soup doesn't need ham to be good (I prefer a little vindaloo masala in mine). Tepary beans (admittedly hard to find, but well worth it) are the meatiest little buggers you'll ever sink your pearly whites into. If you've never used dried beans, they should soak for 3-8 hours. Lentils and split peas don't need soaking, but I like my split peas with a little soaking so I wind up with mush. Man, I love mushy peas. Here's bean advice from a man I trust and admire, Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo:

GRAINS: Buy whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain anything--anything to complete the protein (like we talked about last time). It's here that I upset you by telling you that pearl barley is like white bread, so consider looking high and low for hulled barley if you're desperate for barley. Wheat berries are so much fun to chew on that it's almost not funny--almost. There are billions of different kinds of rice, so branch out and try a little mahogany or japonica black rice. And try the recently rediscovered grains like amaranth and quinoa. Mmmmm.

VEGGIES: I've heard you should eat the rainbow (red, yellow, green, purple, white ... blue?!) every day, but if you're like me then that's asking a little much. You can't properly saute a veggie without oil since oil gets a lot hotter than water, so that ought to make those days without oil all the more painful. It is, however, very easy to steam by putting 2 Tbs to 1/4-cup water into a saucepan, putting it on the heat until the saucepan's filled with steam, turning the heat down, adding your veggies, and tossing them (covered) until done. An admirable substitute for sauteing.

SPROUTING: If you're feeling especially adventurous, then ignore the somewhat alarming lady with the bouffant and watch:

Some time before Lent I'll do a thing about helpful cookbooks and other resources.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Small town-itis

Ever feel like you don't belong? No, this isn't a depressed episode talking: Chris and I have both dealt with this. That sheer isolation that was so charming has lost its charm, the friendly people openly rail on tourists who move to the area in front of you (uh, hello?), and guess what? You can go too long without a Panera. And a Target. And a drugstore, for goodness sake!! Yes, sweet little Marfa, for all of its charm, has lost its glint. Chris and I are heading back to civilization in the near future.

Chris has started to consider this a sabbatical year, and so have I. It's definitely been much needed after our miserable time in the suburbs of Dallas. We've learned a lot about ourselves, especially me: I never would've wanted to be a photographer or go to art school if we hadn't headed out to Marfa. We're still taken in by the mountains, even when Chris drives the road between them every day. But it's hard when the people around don't seem to want you there because you're screwing up their perfect little town. Yes, terribly sorry to be earning your businesses more money--what a pain in the butt. Marfa isn't too bad about that since it's filled with transplant, artsy types, but Marfa isn't the only town in the area ... it just seems like it.

Chris wants to go to grad school and become a counselor, and this isn't the ideal area for that. Therefore, though it pains us somewhat, we know we'll have to leave the beautiful west for more populated locales. And it doesn't bother me that we've never seen Marfa Lights: If you spend all your time looking for the lights, you may never notice that the stars really do twinkle out here--they don't even do that out in the middle of nowhere in the Hill Country, most likely due to pollution from nearby Austin. I'm grateful for what Marfa's done for me, but--how does the phrase go?--"It's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Marfa is a wonderful place and everyone should visit it at least once, but one must know that it takes a special kind of person to live out here.

Anyway, we've developed a nice list of things to do before we depart the area, hopefully getting to all the state and national parks in the area. ATV tour of Big Bend National Park? Yes please! Time well-spent in El Paso? Yes please! Solar viewing at the McDonald Observatory? Of course! It'll be hard to leave, that's for sure.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Settled on spring break

We'll be touring the Texas border and taking in a little birding down in the Valley. Tons of exciting varieties of birds pass through the southern-most tip of Texas before heading to the rest of America, so the tropical border region is home to the World Birding Center. So, Chris and I will go from Marfa to Del Rio (and Lake Amistad, my new favorite place on earth), Del Rio to Lake Casablanca (outside Laredo) to the tiny town of Roma, then from Roma to Harlingen. And this will take place because now I've put it on the blog--no more mind-changing!

As many know, we also just got back from a 3-day weekend in the Hill Country. Sure is nice and green out there in winter, but that's because the temperature doesn't drop so dramatically overnight there. Yes, it was 70 today in Marfa, but tonight it'll be 32. Humidity does have its high points.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Lomography is an organization that deals with toy cameras. Twenty-five years ago, while in Austria, the founders bought a Russian toy camera called a Lomo and ended up taking such surprisingly wonderful pictures that it started a firestorm. That firestorm still exists and is called (shock horror) Lomography.

Though has a store selling plastic cameras like the Diana (which I have), the Holga, and naturally the Lomo, they also exist as the world's biggest fans of analog (aka film) photography. For a little lost photographer like myself, I eat up guidance and ideas. Lomography's 10 Golden Rules really opened my horizons:

1. Take your camera everywhere you go
2. Use it any time – day and night
3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
4. Try the shot from the hip
5. Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible
6. Don’t think (william firebrace)
7. Be fast
8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
9. Afterwards either
10. Don’t worry about any rules
My shots have changed dramatically since discovering Lomography and street photography. I take pictures of very different things, and I can't get enough of using film. I branched out to color film after discovering Lomography--truth be told, it's not a cheap medium. I'm hard pressed to say that any medium is cheap or stupid or somehow inferior. That doesn't mean I like everything, though.

So where's the beef? I hate these little plastic cameras. Am I already so spoiled by the vintage cameras that I can't stand these? I spent $240 on a Diana and every one of its accessories (which, in camera terms, is incredibly cheap). I won't buy any more cameras from Lomography unless it's from their set of old Russian cameras. They're too lightweight. I have no idea if the focusing is accurate. Did I mention they're too lightweight? The dogs knocked my Bolsey onto the floor--the thing is built like a tank and sustained no injuries. I'm certain that if the Diana fell, it would explode. Film quality after I develop a roll will be the most telling thing, but when the time comes for me to buy a medium format camera I'll go back to my eBay source.

That said, the Diana accessories include a fisheye lens, so this weekend in the Hill Country should be fun. I'm just not sure that lomographic cameras deserve the worship they get much like I'm not sure that Leicas are the be-all-end-all of rangefinders.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Eating

I get a little tired of hearing that fasting isn't good for you health-wise. Well, actually, in the case of the person saying it that might be true, because chances are good that said person is doing this very, very wrong. The truth is that it's healthier than the average American diet (what isn't?) and good not just for mind and spirit but body as well. So let's just jump right in and count a few myths I've heard:

1. "Humans are supposed to eat meat. That's why they have canine teeth." Yes, massively underdeveloped ones. My counter is that humans also have super-long intestines that are great for absorbing every last vitamin out of vegetables but tend to cause meat to rot. Ewww. Let's move on.
2. "You can't get enough protein." Two counters: 1) Americans get too much protein from meat anyway, and 2) yes you can. More on that later.
3. "Make sure and take vitamins so you get enough protein." Whu?! Vitamins don't have protein--your food will. But you ought to take your vitamins--more on that later.


First and most important is getting enough protein. You will eventually waste away eating white bread, white pasta, and potatoes. The combination of whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and legumes (beans, peas, lentils, and even the dreaded tofu) creates a lovely matching set of essential amino acids and makes--TA DA!--a complete protein. I've heard both that you must eat them together at every meal and that you can eat them separately and it'll add up at the end of the day, but I'm no scientist. Do what seems right to you. See? Annunciation and Palm Sunday aren't the only two days you'll get protein!

Best sources of protein? Among legumes, that oh-so annoying soy. Among grains, quinoa and amaranth. They have the closest to complete protein of all plants.

Vegan diets tend to be deficient in B12, so unless you love nutritional yeast or eat mushrooms like a mushroom-eating fiend, you should have some kind of one-a-day vitamin. Nutritional yeast, I should add, is not what gets put in bread: It's a cheesy-flavored, bright yellow stuff (clearly words fail me) that's insanely good for you. Ideally you'll eat delicious veggies to help with most of the vitamins you need.

Chances are good that you have plenty of extra fat hanging around, so you needn't suffer as a result of the fact that you can only have oil on specific days. After scientists said that fat isn't as bad for us as we thought and that olive oil is particularly good for you, we've practically been drinking the stuff. Check out a food pyramid sometime: If it isn't sponsored by McDonald's and claims that Chicken McNuggets are part of a healthy and balanced meal, then you'll see that oil takes up a tiny nubbin of the pyramid.

Next time I'll do a little bit on cooking.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The time has arrived.

I have 5 rolls of film to be developed finally. I asked Snapfish for mailers, but they never arrived. I'm not sure how much I trust them with black and white film anyway. They'll be going off to an old-fashioned film developer in Kansas--I'll plug them if everything comes back okay (and "okay" will factor in the fact that I hadn't used film cameras since college and certainly not low-tech, vintage ones).

Let's see, out of 16 or so rolls of film, only 5 are going to be developed and only 3 are either in use or haven't been used. Most were shredded by the camera because I didn't know how to get them out of there, some were the fatal result of the camera dying (always likely when they're 50+ years old), and one I tried to bail on and accidentally sucked it back in to the cartridge unused. I have the feeling that at least one of the rolls I'm sending off was shredded in the removal process, and I know that same roll of film will look like I got drunk and took pictures--not in the sense that I took pictures of ridiculous things, but rather that there's no telling where on the film the picture is going to show up. Double exposures, here I come!

The Bolsey and the Seagull are my go-getters. The Bolsey is a little hard to see through, so I generally use it in high light; the Seagull is well-suited for indoor situations with its giant viewfinder/rangefinder. My Nazi/Soviet camera sits in its case looking cute (I just don't have it in me to use it), and the Steinheil--which is finally home after a long sojourn at our old house in DFW--doesn't have a built in rangefinder and therefore drives me batty. And this time I mean it when I say it doesn't have a built in rangefinder--it's not that I haven't found it yet, it's that it's not there. I can either spend money and get a pocket rangefinder or put it on a shelf next to the Nazi/Soviet camera.

My first SLR, a Yashica, died in two days. It sucked the film into its gears and refused to let go, and now its shutter doesn't work. Meanwhile, I have another SLR on the way: a Kodak Retina Reflex III with 3 lenses. I'd be excited, but I'm afraid I'll kill it in an instant too. As soon as I find a place that'll do it, I'll ship the Yashica off for repairs (its prism could use a good clean anyway).

The Olympus, digital camera extraordinaire, is still wonderful for me. Sadly, I couldn't get a UV filter for it, so pictures will continue to be a little gray and washed out. My new thing is the light painting, which is using a long shutter speed and a light source that kind of smears across the screen. You can do it with film, but the instant gratification of digital has really reinvigorated the art. You can either manipulate the light source or the camera, and my favorite thing to do is sit in the car and let the road bounce the camera for me. At dusk, it creates some really beautiful images:
That's the St. Joseph's Professional Building (presumably part of a hospital) in Houston. I call it "Golgotha/Houston."

Anyway, that's all that's fit to print in the camera and photography world. I'll report back with the best and worst of the film once it's back in my clutches.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh, Piety Cat

One cannot absorb ones prayers by osmosis! Now get off my prayer book and stop eyeing the dog like that!

We indulge Miss Lemon being in the icon corner because it's one of the few places she's safe from the over-friendly Hamilton.