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My sister, in Oregon

November 22nd, 2001

To Go To Dinner
One hundred eighty miles from Roseburg to Portland with a slow hour of inch worm traffic south of Salem. Heavy rain, arrived at my sister's just after 3:00, tired, more than ready to get off the road. It's early morning at the kitchen table, I'm the only one awake, writing. Overcast. They're talking about the sun breaking through later. I wonder.

Evidently the plan is to have Thanksgiving dinner with some of my sister and brother-in-law's friends, a doctor and his wife who is a professional photographer. I met them once at the house here last year. Great. A professional photographer. Competence in the craft. I think I remember my sister saying her father was a famous photographer. Great. More competence. What the hell, I'll get the mechanics down one day, maybe, but I'm never going to have the steam to push picture making beyond beginner. I'm too lazy for that. Or smart. Or old. Or run off at the mouth.

We'll dodge talk of pictures, which shouldn't be hard. Photographers never talk to other photographers in the field or at Thanksgiving dinners, it's part of the ethos. The question is on the photographer's SAT: "Do you now or have you ever talked with another photographer in other than gruff tones in the field or at an evening meal (Thanksgiving not excluded)?" Mumble.

What the hell, so far, so good. Seven hundred miles from Oakland, which, I seem to recall fromPicture of mom the car rental agreement, is about a hundred miles less than the agreement allows. I examined my fantasy of buying a vehicle for weekend trips as I was driving. Do I really want to spend time on the road? In a rainstorm? In Oregon? My fantasies (now decades old) of a cab over camper. Would my enthusiasm last more than a week? I wonder. Maybe all this speculation is just me sitting here running on idle, the odd off the wall thought passing through like the odd off the wall word muttered when you're asleep. "Oatmeal". "Motor Oil". "Biscuits". "Mesquite".

The wind has started blowing outside in gusts. I can hear the rain. I am not holding my breath for the sun. Ah, thunder. Yes. The sun. Today. Right.

Later, after shopping, two glasses of Merlot into the afternoon. Dinner is at 4:00. I'm thinking the photographer who's having us all to dinner has a portrait setup. I'll ask her about her lights, what she uses, when. She'll tell me. There are certain exceptions to the don't talk to the photographer rule, and innocent questions over Thanksgiving dinner qualify. I've been looking through a book of my sister's, On The Edge, Images From 100 Years of Vogue. Portraits, singles and groups. I wonder, wonder, wonder. Could I shoot some like those?

The two glasses of Merlot bubble inside. I'll ask the photographer at dinner. I think her father was famous for nature photography, great big color 8 by 10 vue camera stuff, trees and rocks, farms and barns, Ansel Adams. Color Ansel Adams. Entirely different area from mine, entirely different subject. No need to feel insecure. Ask questions, get the lights and the umbrellas and the snoots and the soft boxes). A good day to go to dinner.

The photographs were taken of my sister and mother on Thanksgiving in Oregon.