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This wasn’t an easy challenge for me. Since the challenge is posted on Friday, that usually gives me the weekend to come up with something. Escape is a word that means almost nothing to me. My mind was a total blank. Then my sister went away to the beach with a friend for a week. She asked if I had any good “escapist” fiction. I took the lightest stuff from my bookshelf and put in a bag for her. Then I realized that reading was one of my primary means of escape. So I took a whole bunch of novels off my shelf and made this little tableau. There are also books under the chair and on the other side as well, but aesthetically, I liked this photo best. I think you still get the sense of a room cluttered with books even if you don’t see all the books.

An arm chair covered in novels.

Now, I need to go clean up the room.

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It would have been such fun this weekend to fly someplace exotic with no other purpose than to take photos for this week’s photo challenge. However, prior commitments prevented me from doing that. So instead, I asked myself, what if someone from far away came here, to Baltimore. What pictures would they take to show the culture? The monks in the photos put me in mind of church goers here. I also thought about crabs, but crabs were not in season yet. I’ve been dying to take some pictures on the marching bands, but I’m not sure where to find them when there is neither a parade nor a football game. Football was another possibility, but, again, it’s not the right time of year. Baseball, but they’re not in town this week. Finally, I settled on an American ritual that has always puzzled me. In the spring and the fall, people go outside and build fires and “roast” marshmallows. Now, it’s necessary to point out that marshmallows are nothing more than sugary confections that don’t actually require roasting and are no longer made from marsh mallows. Then, this burnt marshmallow is sandwiched between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate thrown in. This is called a s’more. If you didn’t know, graham crackers were originally made from graham flour, which was invented by the Reverend Sylvester Graham for a vegetarian diet intended to reduce the libido, among other supposed benefits. So, in the good weather, Americans like to give themselves asthma attacks by sitting in front of an open fire eating these peculiar foodstuffs made from libido reducing crackers, chocolate and roasted whipped sugar and gelatin blobs. (If any individuals recognize themselves or their children in the following photos and would like to have the pictures taken down, just let me know.)

About a year or so ago some birders were having an exchange on the internet. I said that I didn’t think I qualified as a birder, but proceeded to post the list of birds I saw that day. They responded that it was okay for me to call myself a birder. So, as a birder, lackadaisical though I might be, I assumed that my post for this week’s photo challenge would involve birds, especially since I don’t believe that I have yet posted any photos of Red Tailed Hawks or Black Vultures, birds I see almost every day and are certainly associated with the word “up.”

However, my sister has had a hellacious week at work and finished a big project on Friday. So, on Saturday, we got a bottle of champagne. Instead of tramping through fields and forests trying to get photos of birds, I took, slightly tipsily, photos of bubbles floating up.

bubbles in a glass of champagne.

When I saw the bridge in Michelle’s post announcing the theme for this week’s photo challenge, I immediately knew exactly where it was taken because I once moved from New Jersey to Philadelphia. I’ve had quite a few changes of location: New Jersey, New York, New Jersey, back to New York again, Quebec, Canada, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New Jersey yet again, New York, Maryland. That’s only naming states and provinces and doesn’t count moves among cities within a state. Furthermore, those changes in location have often been accompanied by other changes, changes in career, in marital status. So, I tried to think of my most recent life change and that would probably be being diagnosed with depression. I tried to think of an image that would represent that.Small, blue pills - zoloft.

So I took a photography of the pills that are supposed to help with that. Then I started wondering if I had any other mind altering substances around my house.

A catnip leaf and stem.

I found some catnip that we grow on the window sill. It doesn’t affect humans, but it certainly alters cats’ minds.

A glass of rum.

In the back of the cabinet, I found a bottle of rum.

Anti-depressants, catnip, rum, these are things that change moods.

A sketch based on the photo that Amina put on youtube with the words, "my body belongs to me," written on her chest in Arabic.

My body belongs to me.

Wow, color! Anyone who knows me has got to know that this is my challenge. Typically, I’ve been using the Weekly Photo Challenges for my own ends, as a launching off point for making new photographs. Therefore, I don’t usually put up older photos. However,  I will this time. Not only do I have a series of photos that fit the theme perfectly, but the timing is almost perfect. I missed the international protests in support of Amina Tyler that occurred yesterday, until I saw some images on a news site. Amina Tyler, for those of you who haven’t heard, is an 18-year-old Tunisian woman who belongs to the feminist group, Femen, which is known for staging disruptive, topless protests. She put a photo of herself painted with the words “My body belongs to me and is the source of no one’s honor”, written in Arabic, on the internet. Since then she has received death threats and a prominent cleric in Tunisia has called for her to be stoned to death. She has since disappeared. There have been various rumors about what has happened to her, but I have not yet been able to find a reliable source.

I first heard of the group Femen when I took some photos of them at a demonstration for marriage equality last December. As you can see, the pictures are full of color.

“A Day in My Life” could be interpreted two ways,  a typical day or a particular day. As it happens, this is a holiday weekend and, although I don’t celebrate Easter, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit my mother. So, I had no choice but to interpret the theme as a particular day, one that was not at all typical.

The apartment in the photo is my mother’s. The only thing I can claim credit for is I made the curtains in the dining room where we ate our breakfast. My mother thought it would be fun if we took a drive to Pennsylvania, so we got out some maps. I thought to myself, “What a great opportunity to take some photos.” I snapped a few photos of her apartment and also of the old car that parks next to hers in their garage. Before we got an hour away from her apartment, we got lost. It’s hard to explain how it happened. I looked up and I said to her, “What are we doing in Paterson?” She didn’t really know. The funny thing is that we got lost about a block away from the house where she grew up. We drove past it three times. Finally, I started yelling at her and saying that she was going senile. It wasn’t nice of me. She always had a bad sense of direction. After a couple of hours driving in circles around Paterson, we decided to give up on the idea of going to Pennsylvania and we went to get lunch. Then we went back to her place and watched some movies on tv.

I confess, that I would not have been my first choice for this theme if I had a choice. It doesn’t show me in a good light, it doesn’t show my mother in a good light and the photos are not even especially interesting.

Yesterday, my sister and I built a birdhouse. When my sister first moved into her house, there was a rotting old birdhouse sitting on a nail that was driven into a tree that we took down several years ago. We’ve been threatening to replace it. Finally, realizing that this was the time of year to do it, we did just that. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing birds checking it out over the next few days.

For other interpretations, look at the comments in the Weekly Photo Challenge.

A close up of a wilted, sliced tomato with an orange sweet pepper in the background.I’m not really into the whole food porn thing, so I tried to think of something that ran counter to that idea. Being a slob, I had some vegetables that I had sliced from the previous day’s lunch sitting on the counter. I had made some okra and tomatoes, which also included red and yellow pepper, onion, shrimp, all that dumped over couscous. It was pretty good if I may say so myself. I enjoyed my food and forgot to clean up.

A sriveled up end of an onion.

I was about to throw it out when I though, “Hey, this doesn’t look so bad.” Using a black cloth I used years ago for photographing architectural models, I set up a makeshift still life studio. Voila.

Yesterday, I went looking for things that I might normally think of photographing that would also might yield more interesting photos at different scales and angles. Taking my camera with me, I went for a walk around my sister’s suburban Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood. Maryland is a small state located in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. It is not a “Northern” state, but it was never part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. It sits on the border of the North and the South both literally and culturally.

The first photo is of a little stone path leading up to a rundown greenhouse.

A stone path.

Next, I zoomed in and got a little closer.

Several flat stones.

Finally, I put on some extension tubes and took some macro photos.DSC_0222

Ecologically, Baltimore is within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States.

Yesterday, after taking these photographs, we headed over to the garden store to get seeds for this year’s garden.

To see more interpretations of the same theme go to the Weekly Photo Challenge.