cmc landscaping

There's nothing like a nice lush green lawn.

cmc home page
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to create a new website for CMC Landscaping along with some ad work. The company wanted a simple, clean site to replace an older site. I opted for rotating banners, some of which change seasonally, at the top to highlight some of their key service areas. The company also wanted some limited time offers resembling coupons placed on the home page to highlight special offers for the season.

The site has been recently updated to reflect their fall cleanup specials and to lead into their winter season. Another enhancement made this fall was the addition of Zip Bars to keep the pages uncluttered and keep relevant information above the fold and accessible with a click. As the site progresses, we will be adding photos of all the great work CMC Landscaping does! If you're in the Walpole/Norfolk area and in need of fall cleanups, landscaping projects before the snow starts flying, or winter plowing, give them a call!

duck duck ... duck


Ducks, ducks, and more ducks.

The Neponset Valley Sunrise Rotary Club has run Duck Race on the Charles in Dedham for a number of years; this year marked its 9th year. The duck race is an endeavor that puts plenty of "fun" back into fund raiser. Check out some of the Duck Race photos.

Racing ducks, not to be confused with our little yellow rubber "spokesduck," are " adopted" and numbered. First duck to cross the finish line wins $1,000 for the person having the corresponding number. There are also second, third, and fourth place prizes, not to mention free food, games, face-painting, pony rides and the like on the day of the race.

Last year, I revised the look of the flyers and posters, created a save the date half-flyer, and we created a Facebook page for our ducky friends; visit them at Duck Race on the Charles. NVS Rotary hopes you will like their page too. (The spokesduck tends to quack a little less in the winter months, but he'll have plenty to say come spring time.)

The Duck Race had pretty good press. Releases were submitted to local papers, the Patch, Our Town, and other media sites. This year, I ramped up Duck Race banners, carrying design elements over from the flyers and posters. With these banners, I had the chance to work a little larger than I normally do, which was a lot of fun; the largest banner was about 15 feet. Here's the jpg below. The banners were produced through Norwood Printing. They did great work.


the alexandra smith foundation

On December 28, 2010, the lives of my friends were changed in an instant.

Their daughter, Alexandra (Ally) Smith suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a two-car collision. As of February 9, Ally remains in a coma, but has fought through surgeries and medical issues and is currently at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston undergoing extensive therapy. Happily, family, friends, and community have rushed in to provide support in so many ways: a shoulder to lean on, lodging near Beth Israel where Ally was first taken, food delivered to the hospital, hot meals delivered to the family, financial support, volunteer support for fundraising, and so much more. It was clear from the beginning that we should do our best to provide financial support to help pay for the daunting medical and care costs that come with TBI. So, The Alexandra Smith Foundation to support Ally Smith was established.

Rally for Ally postcard
This will not be a blog about running the gamut of emotions, circling back and forth between sadness, disbelief, hope, and celebrating milestones large and small. This is about using your ability to help where you can. Fortunately, with my background in communications, design, writing, and fundraising, I was able to help provide the foundation with design materials needed to make a start. My advice to give to anyone in such a situation would be: whatever your design capabilities and software skills, try to keep your communications clean, to the point, easy to read, and consistent.

First, we needed a logo. Ally, an assistant at Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment had dreams of being a veterinarian; she has always loved working with animals, has ridden horses for many years competitively and for fun, and is caretaker for a number of dogs and horses in the area. Horses? Dogs? I knew I wanted a reference to her love of animals. I started a few rough sketches. Eh. She is also known for her easy-going nature, and her smile. "Ally's smile" was mentioned by nearly everyone who came to visit at Beth Israel. I chose a well-known non-serif typeface - Myriad Pro, and I gave a small nod to her love of animals with a paw print over the "i" in "smith". I wanted her name to stand out and be easily recognized through the community. I nestled "the" at the top, and used a curved line, representative of her great big smile to tie in her name with "foundation." I was pretty sure the main color would be red. I did experiment with green, Ally's favorite color, but red is a color that commands attention, and I knew we needed to draw that attention to the situation.

Flyer for Rally for Ally
I tabled the idea of letterhead and other identity material for the time being, and moved right on to development of the website. A Facebook Page, Ally's Road to Recovery, was already established, and growing (1,039 supporters to date), so it made sense to be able to quickly bring that community to a website. Ally's boyfriend, Bobby locked up a domain name for us and prepared information for the press, some of which we used for the text of the website. Using Real Mac's RapidWeaver, I chose a new theme, SNo3, from seyDesign as my starter template. I loved the ability to add a slideshow at the top of the page, but kept the slideshow just to the home page and opted just for one picture on each of the other pages. I had a few photos to work with, supplied by Ally's sister Vanessa. I gave them a quick brush up in Photoshop and formatted them before loading them in. Some of the pages still need a bit of work, but we managed to get enough information in there for a good start and the site launched on January 17, 2011.

Rally for Ally logo
In the meantime, I was drawn into the Team Ally meetings regarding a quick first fundraiser. That's where I met Dave Thornton, who happened to be the brother of a fellow Rotarian. Dave is an idea guy. Lots and lots of ideas. That snowballed into a logo for the "Rally for Ally" (coined by Dave) fundraiser to be held on February 12th at Finnegan's Wake, and posters, and flyers, and can wrappers, and labels, and postcards. I began with the logo. "Can we have that today?" I had to work fast. I wanted to come up with something that incorporated more of a feel for Ally's love of horses, so I designed a rope brush in Illustrator, used Myriad Pro again, but tweaked the edges of the letters, and stuck to the same color. Then I turned my attention to the poster and flyer, the can wrappers, the wine labels, logos for tee-shirts and banners, trying to keep it fast and consistent. Thanks to Dave Luongo and Bay State Envelope for the printing services and for making it all look fantastic!

We expect the Rally for Ally on February 12th to be a great time for a great cause, to help a young lady who has touched so many lives in her 23 years. We continue to pray for her full recovery.

a multi-channel campaign

Multi Channel

Think you can do without print? Or do without marketing through electronic channels?

Think again.

According to a 2008 study by InfoTrends, more than 200 marketers who were surveyed reported an improvement of 35% for multi-channel campaigns (print, e-mail, web landing page) over single channel print-only campaigns. Personalization further improved campaign performance: marketers reported an average improvement of close to 50% for personalized multi-channel campaigns over print-only campaigns.

It is interesting to note that using single-channel electronic media is not as effective as the multi-channel approach either. More channels elicit greater response than single channel marketing.

How can you create a multi-channel campaign? One example is to send a postcard that invites recipients to a URL, then send a follow-up thank you e-mail for visiting. Or invite people to your website where they can select various product or service options, and send a follow-up brochure or e-mail based on their interests. You can utilize the power of social media too — provide a discount or other incentive on Facebook with a link to a URL, ask the visitor to act (buy now, more information, etc.) then follow-up with an e-mail or mailing. The more consistency in your marketing message and the appearance of your print, web, and e-mail design, the better. Be sure to create as cohesive a look as you can.

For more than 60% of those surveyed, multi-channel campaigns improved response rate and customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction. An increase in sales conversion was also noted. The bottom line improved with increases in overall revenue, profitability and sales. Another plus? Nearly half of those surveyed reported a reduction in the cost per lead.

direct mail: reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

With the many marketing channels available, you may be overlooking, or underutilizing, one of your best advertising channels – direct mail.

There has been much talk about the death of direct mail. Yes, it is crucial to utilize less costly methods of advertising, such as a website, online social media, email marketing, etc., and to market to clients according to their preferences. However, most businesses can also benefit by using all the tools in their tool belts – including direct mail.

How can you use direct mail as part of your marketing mix and why should you?

Use direct mail to build awareness about your business. Direct mail can help drive people to your storefront and your website, where you can use other marketing channels to help “make the sale” and build lasting and profitable customer relationships.

Use direct mail for a marketing blitz. If you want to build awareness, and you have the budget, consider sending direct mail weekly or even twice a week for a month or more. If you emailed with that frequency, customers might be more apt to “unsubscribe” — but they will be less likely to make an effort to stop mailings. In the meantime, your target customer base will have become more aware of your business or brand.

Zig while others zag. While fewer companies are using direct mail, or using it less frequently, this makes it more likely that your marketing pitch will get through to your audience. Fewer pieces in the mailbox make your pitch more noticeable. Worried about your printed materials hitting the trash? Remember that emails are easily deleted too. And you can print on recycled paper to show some “green.”

Personalize your direct mail. Think direct mail is not personal enough? Think again. Variable-data printing allows companies to use purchase history databases to personalize everything from postcards and letters to catalogs.

Use direct mail to sustain current customer relationships. Offer discounts or special services in your direct mail as a call to action. Or include a bookmark, refrigerator magnet or some other item that keeps your name in front of customers. You can’t do that with email!

Direct Mail is not dead, but single channel communication IS. You should not rely on one single marketing channel to get through to everyone you target. When you take a look at your entire marketing mix, consider how direct mail can factor in and use it to your advantage.

© Smart Business Matters

procrastination nation

If you have difficulty accomplishing important tasks, and you complete projects at the last possible minute or miss deadline after deadline, small changes can get the job done.

Having trouble getting things done? A study on procrastination by Dr. Piers Steel at the University of Calgary showed that a whopping 95 percent of us procrastinate occasionally and 20% procrastinate consistently. Steel has studied procrastination for a decade or more and believes we procrastinate because we are “hard-wired” to “value pleasures today more than pleasures tomorrow.” Whatever the cause, here’s what you can do about it.

Identify the source of your procrastination. Are you afraid you’ll blow a project, so you put it off until the last minute, congratulate yourself on a job done well, but think you could have done even better with more time? Do you feel that your work is never good enough for you? Are you afraid of success? Do you tend to value the short-term payoff versus the long-term reward? Do you lack a set routine or the energy to meet your goals? Understanding why we put things off allows us to begin to make a change.

Identify how you procrastinate. Some people ignore a task, hoping it will go away, especially if is intimidating. Others over- or under-estimate the amount of time a project might take. Do you substitute a less important task for the task at hand? Take the endless break? Do you get stalled on one task of a project, which leaves less time for other, equally important tasks? Do you just not know where to start? When you are aware of how you procrastinate, you can better control that behavior.

Create a productive environment. Set up a space that’s conducive to work, but do not get caught up in spending time making the workplace “perfect.” Your workplace should be low on distractions. Limit your time on e-mail and surfing the web, two of the largest modern time wasters. Do your most important work when you are at your best. Some people get more done early in the morning. Others might do their best work mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Before you quit for the day, plan a to-do list for the important items that need attention the next day. Then you’ll start with a plan in the morning.

Challenge your excuses. If you only have an hour, you can still complete a few small tasks for a project, or some piece of a larger task. Waiting for research? Ask yourself if you have enough information to make a start on a project, and then research further if necessary. While it’s nice to have a tidy office, cleaning often becomes a means of procrastination rather than preparation for more important projects. If all you need is your brain, a pen and paper, or computer, and those are at hand, get started.

Take small steps. Break projects into activities, activities into smaller tasks. For example, if you need to put together marketing materials, an initial activity might be to hire a designer. That can, in turn, be broken down into tasks such as: call three associates and ask for a reference, spend no more than one hour online searching for designers, call three designers, set up meetings, etc. Then decide what tasks you will put on today’s to-do list. Each task you cross off your to-do list brings you one step closer to the final result.

Set mini-deadlines for yourself. If you are used to the agony and thrill of getting something done at the last minute, set mini-deadlines for yourself. If a project is due in four weeks, set deadlines for project tasks throughout that time period.

Eliminate Distractions. Turn your e-mail notifications off. This way the ping of new e-mails won’t lure you in to checking “one” e-mail, then cleaning out your e-mail box, or surfing the web. When you need to focus, turn your cell phone off and catch up on voice mail at scheduled times. Don’t allow yourself to go off on tangents. Keep some paper to jot down any “things I need to do” that could pop into your head so you can quickly return your focus to the job at hand.

While you may never be completely cured of procrastination, you might be amazed at how much more you get accomplished with a few small changes in the way you work.

© for Smart Business Matters

demanding, but fair

I write for a business newsletter, Smart Business Matters, about all things business. That, in addition to years in the business world, made me even more attune to the leadership “buzz word” that came up time and again when coworkers spoke about Walter Cronkite. I couldn’t help but think, as I listened to commentary on Walter Cronkite, how much I had taken for granted growing up with him on the nightly news, telling us the way things were. I knew he was a great newsman, and I certainly shared his enthusiasm for space travel. Glued to that TV set, I was, when the Eagle landed 40 years ago.

But this weekend I came to realize more fully what a real impact he had on the television news industry and how fine his leadership skills must have been. As Morley Safer put it, Cronkite was “Demanding, but fair.” Since the above mentioned newsletter has a little bit of an international subscription, it wasn’t the best place for the article I wrote this weekend, so I thought I’d post it here instead.

Demanding, but fair. How many times have you heard that phrase uttered, often with a note of respect and pride, by employees about their bosses? Wouldn’t it be great if more employees had that type of leadership? Every manager can take a few leadership cures from “Uncle Walter” who has been referred to often as “the most trusted man in America.”

Leaders are passionate about their work. First and foremost, Cronkite was passionate about his work, and he never lost site of the fact that his work was, as it has been said countless times by many, to report the news, not be the news. Leaders love what they do and are driven to learn how to do it better. Their love for the job often shows in their work ethic and in the standards they set for themselves and others.

Leaders are team players. Cronkite managed and led a team of field reporters who respected him because he supported them. He has been referred to as “a reporter’s best friend” by newswoman Katie Couric. He never forgot what efforts others had to go through to get the news “right, fast, and first.” Leaders guide and support their team, knowledgeable about what hurdles their team has to face to get the job done and helpful in clearing those hurdles.

Leaders communicate. Cronkite set the standards for television news and his field reporters knew what those standards were. He demanded the best, but was quick to heap praise when his correspondents delivered. Newswoman Lesley Stahl said, “We wanted to please Walter. When he was happy, we were happy. When he was unhappy, we heard it.” Leaders communicate their standards to their team, challenging themselves and their team to do better. They let their team know when they’ve got it wrong, and praise, praise, praise, when their team gets it right.

Leaders set the tone. “A leader sets the tone,” said newsman Bob Schieffer. “And Walter always set the right tone. He set the right standards and set the right enthusiasm.” Leaders who are focused on the next task and goal, always striving to improve, approach their work with enthusiasm, communicate their standards, support their staff, and create a cooperative work environment which provides a model for everyone else to emulate.

Leaders listen and question. Cronkite listened to everyone, from Presidents to the people, and was determined to get first-hand information. He always had another question about the information he received in an effort to better understand the news, and often revised his delivery to accommodate last minute updates. Leaders listen to what others tell them, weigh the information they receive carefully and ask questions, and often implement the recommendations of others to improve themselves and the quality of their work.

Leaders take on new challenges. Walter Cronkite became a television reporter at a time when television reporters were considered “showy” and inferior to radio and print reporters. He was able to get in on the ground floor of an industry and shape that industry for the better. Leaders look past the conventions of the day, see opportunities where others see limitations, and move forward to embrace new challenges and technologies.

Leaders never lose their sense of humility and humor. As serious as he was about his work, those that knew him spoke often of his humble nature and sense of humor. Speaking of his first time behind the camera, Cronkite once said, “I just fell into whatever I do naturally. I never took any elocution lessons, no diction lessons. I might have been a pretty decent broadcaster if I had. But what you see, I’m afraid, is what you get.”

What the world saw and what the world got was pretty darned good, wouldn’t you say?

long time no write

I had every good intention of writing on a monthly basis, but unfortunately work and life got in the way. I spent time in February and March creating new marketing materials for myself and a new website design. Then I got sidetracked with an increasing work load and expected – and unexpected – family obligations.

Since March I’ve written business articles; created copy for multiple newsletters; updated websites; taken more than a thousand wedding, school, graduation, golf, and family photographs (I stopped counting weeks ago); and completed a newsletter redesign and layout of a 36-page newsletter and annual report. So, lots of fun to go around!

Soon, I hope to get back into my early morning creative writing groove and shoot pictures for the fun of it. I also hope to play a bit more with some new design techniques.

I have been feeling a little like Ishmael these last few weeks — desperate to get down to the water. It just felt wrong to enter July without having gone for a swim. I finally had the chance late Friday afternoon to at least hit the pool.

Today I decided to take a break from processing pictures to finish the web update I began months ago and bring it live. Hope you like it.

on the road to better time management

You can’t create time, however you may be able to better manage the time you have.
Here’s how:

Choose a Destination
Increasing time spent on one task or project requires your spending less time on another. Take a moment to re-examine your long-term goals. What are your work and personal goals for the year? List five things you would like to accomplish, such as cultivate new prospects, increase revenue in specific areas, create a new marketing campaign, or spend more time with family. Prioritize them, giving as much thought to your “wants” as to your “needs.” Focus first on the goals that are most important or urgent – the ones you value most and to which you are willing to commit.

Make Each Mile Count
Choose one or two goals to accomplish over the next few months, moving on to other goals on your list as the year proceeds. The majority of your time should be spent on completing goal-directed tasks. Create a list of objectives, or “steps,” towards each goal. If your goal is to expand into a new sector, schedule time to research potential areas of profitability or identify and meet new prospects. Schedule tasks such as soliciting a number of prospects each month or attending a networking event to help to keep you moving forward. You’ll stay on target if you ask yourself daily, “Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing in order to reach my goals?”

Take What You Need
Consider the equipment or services you need in order to reach your goals. Use of accounting software, such as QuickBooks or Peachtree, could allow you to spend more time soliciting clients and less time going over the books. Minding the store could be delegated to a capable employee. Hiring an expert to update your website could free more time for you to concentrate on goal-oriented items.

Pack Well
Everybody has their own organizational style; some offices are cluttered and others pristine. As a general rule of thumb, organize the tools of your trade in such a way that they are always at hand when you need them. Don’t lose a half-hour searching for the “one thing” you need in order to complete a simple five-minute task. If clutter burns up excess time and finances allow it, bring in a file clerk or professional organizer for a “tune up.”

Always Look Ahead
Keep your calendar handy and with you at all times. If you make an appointment, get some news, or have an idea, jot it down immediately. Set aside some time at the end of each day and week to assess your progress and strategize for the following day and week. Schedule tasks, meetings, and most importantly, blocks of uninterrupted time to work on your short- and long-term goals. If you have work due for a client, allot enough time for completion. Don’t forget to factor in important personal and social obligations!

Fuel Up
You can’t run on fumes forever, and you can’t run on empty at all. Be sure not to drain yourself by overbooking, over-committing, skipping breakfast, or sacrificing exercise or family time on a regular basis. Plan quality time with family and friends. If exercise is important to you, schedule it. Allow yourself substantial time to complete tasks. After work on a big project, take a break. Meet a friend for lunch, take a walk, or shift to work that requires less thought or energy. Put yourself and your needs “on the agenda.”

© for Smart Business Matters, Vol. 2, Issue 3

i resolve to...

Seven things you can do to start the new year on a positive note!

Run a financial check-up. Are you where you had hoped to be financially for the year? Check your Profit and Loss, Income, and Expense Reports. Review your sales reports to determining the more profitable areas of business and areas where sales were sub par. Create a plan to increase business in more profitable areas during the coming year. Either prepare to eliminate less profitable ventures, channels, or market segments, or create plans to increase their profitability.

Prepare a budget. Examine your projected budget and actual expenses for the year. Prepare a budget for the new year, and resolve to stick to it! Factor in expenses for computer and software updates and purchases of new equipment. Be sure to allow changes in your marketing strategy for the upcoming year. Prepare a list of areas to cut if profits and cash flow start running below expectations and a list of contingent opportunities to add or increase if cash flow runs higher.

Plan to succeed. Businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail. Create that fresh business plan you’ve been thinking about. Or, if your financial check-up shows variances, fine-tune your existing business plan for the coming year. Set aside some quality time in January to lay the groundwork for future sales.

Create a marketing plan. Evaluate your marketing mix for the past year, and make changes for the better for the coming year. Freshen up your marketing message and strategy. Are you consistently getting the right message out to the public, or do you find your strategy and materials are sending out mixed messages?

Update the database. Review your database, updating information as needed. Renew contact with lapsed customers, and touch base with existing customers. Ask for more referrals from some of your best customers; connecting their associates’ businesses with ours is a win-win situation. It is a quick and inexpensive way to increase business.

Review staff. Identify staff behaviors and accomplishments that should be acknowledged or even rewarded. Also, identify those whose behaviors or work need to be addressed and improved. Everyone wants feedback on how they are doing. If you have difficulty remembering pertinent examples, schedule a few minutes each day or week to update notes (both positive and negative) for performance reviews for each of your direct reports.

Learn something new. Resolve to update or improve your professional skills. Take a class or plan to read a book or two in an area in which you feel you could use more training.

© for Smart Business Matters, Vol. 3, Issue 4

chasing the crow

This morning I saw a small bird soaring right behind a large black crow. It seemed like the small bird was chasing the crow who was about five times the size of the small bird.

As I watched them, I thought about art and creativity, and how all the creative things that artists do are sort of like the small bird chasing the crow. You have a goal in mind that you’re in pursuit of, a vision of something greater than yourself, and you’re trying to catch it.

Later, as I tooled along downtown, I heard an old song by Donovan with a line that ran something like this, “First there is the mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.” The song also mentions a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Sixties songs and Donovan’s influences aside, I thought of those words in relationship to the bird and the crow and to the process of art as well. A vision of something larger than yourself. Either a feeling of missing the mountain or scaling it step by step and losing sight of the mountain. And then, there it is back again, and hopefully you’re not still at the foot of it.

While I’ve been busy writing and doing design work, I have also been busy trying to get a new online photo service for my work, go through some of my photos and pop them into my gallery, and this has re-ignited my desire to pursue pinhole photographs again.

In addition to experimenting with color pinhole and using my digital differently to get similar effects, I also worked on scanning some of my original black and white pinholes. Although that presented a few obstacles, I had fun doing it. The pinholes are so different than everything else I have shot, but as Marian Roth, my pinhole teacher, told me: these are a part of who I am too. “You think it’s the camera,” she said, “but it’s not. It’s you.”

Since I’ve been thinking about blogging, and haven’t done so for a month, I thought I’d share a few pinholes today. They are a lot darker than my other photography, and the color ones have presented some pretty eerie effects, but I love them just as much, if not more than getting crystal clear, light- and color-filled shots.

Fountain of Ghosts
The fountain in the yard at Snug Cottage in Provincetown. Taken with what I referred to as my “fish-cam.”

wharf 1
Lancy’s Wharf, Provincetown
Also taken with the “fish-cam.”

The “fish cam” was a can decorated with colorful fish. I used the fish to orient the paper inside either vertically or horizontally. The paper was curved inside which provides the warped look.

wharf 2
Lancy’s Wharf II, Provincetown
Taken with the “eye-cam.”

The “eye cam” was a smaller Body Shop can. I drilled the hole for the pinhole through the eye on the cover of the can. I didn’t shave the hole clean, and this added a little something to the process.

This broken up pier just keeps disintegrating with each passing year. I’ll be sorry to see it go.

pilgrims and indians

race point
Recently, I read Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick which dispels the many myths about the Pilgrims, Indians and Thanksgiving with which we've been brought up.

The book details the Pilgrims' journey from England to Holland and eventually to America in search of a place where they could live and worship as they saw fit.

The passage was long and brutal. They arrived, not on Plymouth Rock, but along the outer arm of the Cape, eventually landing in the Provincetown area before making their way to Plymouth Harbor. I've often looked out from Race Point, over the dunes and out to sea, and thought how beautiful and desolate and barren it looks, and what it must have been like to be among the "first" to see this shore.

Without a doubt, the Pilgrims needed food, and fast. One of their first acts of procuring food was to, unfortunately, steal corn that had been stored away for the winter months from the local inhabitants. Not a great way to begin a mutually beneficial relationship in a foreign land. But the Indians befriended them and there was likely a celebration of thans the following fall which was unlike the Thanksgiving we have come to know and love.

And, amazingly, a peace, uneasy at times, was established between the Pilgrims and the tribes along the coast and lasted for about 50 years. Over time, the cultural bridges that had been built failed. The balance of power began to shift from the Indians to the increasing numbers of English who arrived on this shore looking to establish their own thing. And they needed lots of land for cows, and houses, and crops, and commerce. And the next generation needed still more.

The story gets a little complex, as stories do, with arms deals, land "bought" at ridiculously unfair prices, friends becoming enemies, enemies becoming allies, and tribes setting against tribes. The end result: a lot of bloodshed on both sides. Dead Pilgrims and far more dead Indians—as well as enslaved Indians who were sold to pay for the war te new Americans waged.

The past cannot be undone, but there's a lesson or three in it, as there always is. While I'm passing the turkey and stuffing, and fighting over the wings, and giving thanks for waht I have, I'll be reflecting a lot more on the mythology of the day.

I imagine that, with the exception of the occasional plane, boat, and hiker, this view in 2005 might have looked pretty much the same to a Pilgrim or the Nausets in 1620. This double exposure above was taken with a Holga Camera from the balcony of the Visitor’s Center at Race Point. The Holga costs $24.00 and is a whole lot of fun.


pinhole photography

provincetown theatre
Unnerved by the aspect of taking a poetry writing course at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, I scrolled down the list of available classes and saw "Pinhole Photography."

Build your own camera, trial and error...there was something appealing about the method. Or you could say I chickened out of taking the poetry class.


Nothing could compare to the feeling of capturing not only an image, but a feeling, on paper. This primitive and natural way of taking photographs helped me to give up control.
light through trees
You never feel fully in control when you are out there allowing the light to do its thing, to find its way through a pinhole into a tin or box to create a picture of the world that is upside down and backwards. The image you see, or contrive to capture, is surpassed by what the light and circumstances reveal.

No control. And yet, you learn to control the things you can and to accept the outcome.

I took this amazing class and thought, I will never write again. I became obsessed with my "cameras" and with the dark room, working until well after midnight and back at it with the sunrise.

Happily, I did take up my pen again and did take a poetry class. But working with pinhole photography helped rekindle my love of photography and to inform my writing in sometimes small, sometimes major ways.

pictured top left: Provincetown Theatre, top right: A Light from Above