Ruminations, Louise Brooks, & More

IMG_9380

This tranquil secret garden was part of the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour about ten years ago.

This past week hasn’t been what I’d term thrilling—mostly I’ve been dealing with sudden, stabbing pain that would strike my right shoulder randomly, immobilizing my entire arm. This excruciating pain was related to my recent shoulder surgery.

But I don’t really want to rehash all the occurrences. Suffice to say I’m heartily sick of the subject. But I was taken aback when the pain hit me hard at the gym the other day, especially since I never work my right shoulder at the gym and all I was doing was getting off of one of the machines.

The pain was severe but nowhere near as bad as the first occurrence almost two weeks ago. I somehow shuffled over to a couch in the lobby and attempted to sit down. My BFF was with me, so she helped carry my stuff for me.

One of the staff came over and asked me if I was alright. I knew they’d be worried I had injured myself on the premises, so I hastily assured him that my condition had nothing to do with the gym. I asked if there was an ice pack on hand and there was! Sure saved my life.

Luckily, we had completed our strength training, so we rested and chatted for quite awhile. Eventually, my friend left and I finished my workout by putting in 30 minutes of rather low-key cardio on the stationary bike. Just didn’t have the energy to go all out. My body couldn’t do it. But, hey, at least I finished.

This coming week will be filled with various doctor appointments, PT, and filing taxes. Not exactly fun in the sun, huh?

I’ll be following up with two orthos (for my knee and right shoulder), and I’ll be getting an MRI on my left shoulder. I’m kinda hoping I just have bursitis and not a rotator cuff tear on the left shoulder. But it’s a bit unnerving to hear my left shoulder crackle whenever I do shoulder rolls. At least my right shoulder doesn’t make any noise at all.

Small mercies. I’ll take ’em.

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF

No more Gloomy Gus; it’s time for the uplifting part of my post. First of all, my BFF and I are planning to visit a local nature park mid-week. She’s never been there, and it’s been over a decade since I’ve visited the gardens. We’ll walk around, commune with nature, and hopefully take lots of pictures.

I say hopefully take lots of pictures because my poor iPhone is old and storage is extremely low. Oh yeah, and the battery is starting to go, too. If only I had a great digital camera, or at least, the iPhone 7.

Believe me, I’d be running out today and getting a brand new phone with oodles of storage if I could only afford it.

Wait. That falls under the heading of the Gloomy Gus stuff. OK then. Back to the fun stuff.

We’re also planning on going on the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour in May. We took the tour over a decade ago and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I’m sure we’ll see some lovely gardens again, such as the one pictured at the top of this post.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography has been an interest of mine since I was a teen. Ever since my recent discovery of the Painnt app, I’ve been obsessively applying filters to some of my pictures and other free sources and have been sharing them on various platforms such as Instagram.

Filtering photos really is art in its own way, even if you’re just tweaking a stock photo. You’re puting your own stamp, your imagination, creativity, and indeed your own unique vision upon a subject. You’re enhancing color, increasing warmth, or adding ominous touches to the original photo. By the clever manipulation of light, shadow, color, and texture, you can completely alter the narrative of the original source photo.

And to me, that is exciting indeed. If I’m lucky, I find myself awestruck by the beauty and transformation of the finished creation.

I’m using the Painnt app on my iPad right now because my old computer with Photoshop on it isn’t hooked up to the internet. And yes, I also need a new computer and the latest versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Dreamweaver… ahem.

OK. Fun stuff only. See, I remembered.

DISCOVERING LOUISE BROOKS

I’d like to show you some of the work I’ve done this week. One of my favorite creations is this photo of the iconic silent screen actress, Louise Brooks. Frankly, I’d like to produce a high-res image of it in acrylic so I could display it.

I’ll post my filtered photo first, and next to it I’ll post the original black and white so you can compare the two. Interestingly enough, I had come across the source photo in a Facebook group dedicated to the 20s, 30s, and 40s. I was struck by Louise’s beauty and by the exquisite photo itself, so I thought I’d try working on it. I was pleased with the results.

I naturally knew who Louise Brooks was, but I had never seen her films, nor did I know much about her personal life. So it was highly gratifying for me to accidentally stumble across an intriguing BBC documentary on her life on YouTube last night. The documentary was based on interviews with her and included excerpts from her 1982 memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood,” which were read by actress Linda Hunt.

Louise was a fascinating creature. With her bobbed hair and hedonistic lifestyle, she was the epitome of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Roaring Twenties flapper—liberated, sexually adventurous, headstrong, and ultimately self-destructive.

Louise had an admittedly relaxed attitude about sex. She had affairs with some prominent men, like Charlie Chaplin, but she also claimed to have had a brief dalliance with Greta Garbo.

She socialized with William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies at San Simeon. Louise also worked with many of the famous stars, directors, and producers of her day, including W. C. Fields, Walter Wanger, Howard Hawks, Wallace Beery, and even Fatty Arbuckle after his downfall.

Louise soon tired of her new husband and Hollywood and went to Berlin where she made her best films. Berlin in the twenties was decadent and every sexual appetite could be easily satisfied, especially if you had the money to pay for it. But it was also a creative city in which to make innovative silent films.

Brooks is best known as the lead in three feature films made in Europe: “Pandora’s Box” (1929), “Diary of a Lost Girl” (1929), and “Miss Europe” (1930). The first two were directed by the famed Austrian director, G. W. Pabst.

It is in “Pandora’s Box” that Louise plays Lulu. According to Wikipedia, “Brooks’ portrayal of a seductive, thoughtless young woman whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those who love her, although initially unappreciated, eventually made the actress a star.”

Pabst had predicted that if she did not mend her ways, she’d end up like Lulu. But Louise sought pleasure for pleasure’s sake and her personal life often too closely mirrored that of Lulu’s. She was on the verge of total self-destruction when film preservationist, James Card, rescued her in 1955.

Her memoir should prove to be a fascinating book. I’m looking forward to finding a copy and reading it.

 FILTERED PHOTOS 

Over the last couple of days, I began focusing on certain themes: horses, lighthouses, greasers or Teddy Boys, musicians, dancers, and a few miscellaneous subjects. Some samples of my work are in the following slideshows:

HORSES & LIGHTHOUSES

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DANCERS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

GREASERS & MUSICIANS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

50s GLAMOUR, RIPPED DUDE, & MISC.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m always searching for new subject matter, whether it be current or evocative of the past. But there’s always something intriguing to unravel when delving into the social mores of a bygone era. You never quite know what fascinating tidbits you’ll uncover when you take some steps back into time.

Spring Madness 

Spring is here, and the days are getting warmer. So what does that mean here in SoCal? The community where I live has opened the pool. Unfortunately, the pool is solar heated, which means the water still isn’t warm enough. But it’s supposed to reach the high seventies later this week, so hopefully I’ll get brave enough to take the plunge.

I’m looking forward to going swimming and gaining back some more strength and mobility. And cross training is supposed to help with weight loss. At least I sure hope so. So besides going to the gym, I’ll work on my breast stroke. Freestyle and water aerobics will have to wait for many months until my shoulder is completely healed.

In case you’re wondering about the main photo up on top, I had found the original, free image of the swimmer and then had fun tweaking it in my latest app discovery, Painnt. I’ve been spending hours playing with various filters… I love photography and special photo effects. I’ll have to showcase some of my favorite photos in the coming weeks. Here are some of my favorites:

img_9584-1

Quinoa gone wild.

IMG_9382

Dockside garden.

img_9518-1

Happy puppy.

IMG_9375

Beautiful flowers.

IMG_9380

Secret garden.

IMG_9384

Flower garden.

img_9593-1

Tabbies at play.

img_9589-1

Jewels good enough to eat. These berries look like sparkling gems.

img_9587-2

Pelican spreading its wings on Huntington Beach pier.

img_9524-1

A black and white photo of the famous bandleader, John Philip Sousa (center), and his band gets loaded up with color. My great-great-grandmother’s brother, holding his clarinet, is seated next to Sousa on the left. Musical talent definitely runs on my dad’s side of the family—now we know why.

IMG_9467

Sunset photo turned into sunrise colors in Painnt. Newport Beach.

IMG_9404

Sea bird. Newport Beach.

IMG_9402

Boating. Newport Beach.

IMG_9403

The seal lifted his heavy head to stare at me as we passed by. Newport Beach.

IMG_9408

Reflections. Dana Point.

IMG_9564

The bridge to peace and quiet.

Rare rainy day in SoCal.

Pretty pitty goes for a car ride.

Sketch created in Painnt app.

Dried flowers.

The Cottage. San Juan Capistrano.

IMG_9557

Got the Midas Touch… at least where flowers are concerned.

IMG_9387

Cozy outdoor fireplace.

IMG_9484

Stairs leading to beautiful cove and solitude. Laguna Beach.

IMG_9423

Mission San Juan Capistrano.

IMG_9554

Meditation.

img_9575

Textures and shadows.

IMG_9483

Classic brown tabby morphs into a jewel-toned kitty.

IMG_9472

Elegant baby shower.

img_9576

The Eternal Flame. Photo of lit candle with a black background was transformed into a beautiful mosaic.