Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Recommended reading

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From this week’s blogs:

I’ve followed Tori Nelson’s humor blog for years, but it has been silent for months. The reason is terrible: this summer, her brother murdered her father. Tori’s life was plunged into disbelief and loss and grief. This week, she told the story of the day she found out. It’s a difficult read. Read A Saturday in July

Abigail Easton launched a series on the values the Bible shows, rather than just those it says, this week with a post about relationship. That’s the Bible’s overarching theme.  Read Biblical principles: Relationship

I’m a dedicated and determined introvert, which is why Matt Appling‘s post about why introverts can have a hard time in church resonates with me. Read Three Things That Are Probably Making Introverts Like Me Nervous About Your Church

Wow, that’s a lot of heavy stuff. So let’s end with Eron Garcia (bka The Booze Guru) telling us how to properly hold a cocktail glass. Read How to Hold a Cocktail Glass; or: How to NOT Tick Me Off!

$159 a week

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We called it a trial separation. I took my brother’s couch while she stayed with the kids in our home. Ten days later, she said she didn’t want me back. My brother walked the line between helping and enabling, and stepped off on the side that said I’d have to go.

I landed at an extended-stay hotel, newly built but already reeking of the cigarettes and the sweat and the dank of the transient, with a faint whiff of ammonia and eucalyptus from scant cleaning efforts. I dropped my bags and walked the ten paces around the room. Turned on all the lights. Turned them off, then all on again. The room still dim, the lights straining at the shadows left in the corners.

The chair and the bed did little for the pain and stress gathered in my shoulders. When it was on, the heater did little but argue with the TV, drowning out whatever program was doing its best to distract me from what I didn’t want to think about, not drowning out my neighbors, their loud sex, the fellow cursing from foreplay to finish.

Twice after the office closed my keycard wouldn’t work, the all-hours number went unanswered, and I slept in my car in the cold in the parking lot. Twice I arrived minutes late to pay the rent, and they had already thrown away my food and put my belongings in storage. Grace was sparse and uncommon.

Meanwhile, I paid the mortgage and cable and utilities on a house I’d never live in again. My credit card paid for this room. I stayed just four weeks before finding a scuffed, dingy apartment that cost less than half. The apartment where the insomnia found me, the tears, the agony. In the extended-stay hotel, there was little room left to feel anything at all.


Thanks to my friend Christopher Newgent for helping me say this.

Autumn strolls through my neighborhood

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Velvia is born for sunny days. Cloudy days, meh. Or so I found out when I strolled through my neighborhood one overcast afternoon with camera in hand. But this is the only photo I got that shows how the reds, yellows, and oranges frosted the green trees here as autumn began. So you get cloudy-day shots.

Neighborhood trees

A canopy of trees covers my little neighborood’s banal little houses. My neighbors and I all have our work cut out for us each autumn when the leaves fall. I spend half the day five or six weekends in a row driving around on my tractor sucking up leaves.

Neighbor's house under the yellow canopy

This is one of the better looking homes, just a few doors down from mine. Even though these houses aren’t anything special, I’m happy in mine and am glad to live here.

Neighbor's house

I did get one useful shot of the colorful leaves on a sunny-day stroll through my neighborhood.

Looking up

This really was a remarkable Indiana autumn: wildly colorful, mostly sunny, dry, and warm. I wish they were all this way.

Captured: Flag at Mount Jackson

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Little flag among the fallen leaves

It’s called Mount Jackson Cemetery, but it’s on some of the flattest land in Indianapolis. Mount Jackson was the surrounding neighborhood’s original name, going back to the 1820s, but it’s been called Hawthorne for longer than anybody can remember. Poverty, drugs, petty crime — nobody lives in Hawthorne because they want to.

The cemetery persists, quiet, safe. Here lie Hawthorne’s earliest residents and the neighborhood’s original name. This plot gets little love, but someone came to remember a veteran buried here.

Green, yellow, and orange

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The trees changed color slowly this autumn, often first frosting their tips in red, yellow, and orange while the underlying leaves remained green. This created arresting views all over town.

Along the section of Kessler Boulevard that I filmed last autumn stands a big Presbyterian church with a grand maple beside its parking lot. I bollixed the focusing on my photo of the whole tree, but the close-up shots sure turned out, crisp and colorful.

Orange green red

In transition

Red orange

Autumn in Indianapolis

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Red tree parking lot

Time was, I couldn’t enjoy autumn. I always looked past it straight to winter, which I hate: the cold and snow, the staying indoors, the heavy clothes and coats. But then a few years ago an autumn of astonishing color yanked me from my gathering funk, and since then I’ve looked for autumn’s color, frequently with a camera in hand. My camera has helped me appreciate so many things, and autumn stands at the front of the line.

I’ve often felt that my cameras never captured the full autumn color experience. The closest any camera came was the autumn day I walked through Holliday Park with my old Kodak Z730 digital camera — that old digicam gets wonderful color.

But this year, I had a new arrow in my quiver: Fujifilm Velvia 50, a slide film known for heavily saturated color. I put some in my Nikon F2 and, over several days, photographed as much autumn color as I could. And boy howdy, did I get some strong color back. Unrealistic color. The kind of color we all wish autumn could deliver.

Fortunately, I’m not opposed to such fantasy. Through Thursday this week, I’ll share Velvia photos from my October camera walks. All of this color will counterbalance the black story I need to tell on Friday.

Red and orange

For most of 17 years I’ve lived around the corner from a large cemetery. The trees in its parking lot were probably deliberately chosen for the intense color they deliver come fall.

Red and path

This was the first time I entered the cemetery to photograph anything. I never think about exploring this cemetery because long ago it became something I fail to notice. That happens to things you drive by every day. I only notice these trees because they are near the street.

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