A Fond Memory of Riding a Train Through Italy With Belinda and an Old Camera.

On the train with a Hasselblad V series camera and an older 100mm Planar lens. That, and bagful of Tri-X 400. An elegant several weeks of slow travel.

Sunday morning rituals. Some photographic, some not.

Sunday morning. Texas has been hit once again with unseasonably cold, wet weather. Yesterday, it never got out of the low 40's and, while my friends in the great north may laugh at that I'll have to defend our delicate response to the cold by stating (unscientifically) that our blood must be thinner and our layers of fat less optimal, which means we have more difficulty hanging onto that body heat. 

I heard random rain drops tap against the roof and the new gutters on the house as I lay in my very warm and comfortable bed this morning, weighing the relative merits of actually getting up. I grabbed my phone and looked at the temperature; it was 41, but that was three degrees warmer than yesterday. I'd slept in a bit and missed the 8:30am swim practice I usually attend. I made coffee and a breakfast taco with eggs, potato and uncured ham, and sat at the dinning room table in the soft light coming through the french doors that lead out to the side yard. I read the New York Times on an iPad. 

A bit later Belinda and Studio Dog stirred and we suited up for a nice walk through the neighborhood. We didn't get far before a very undecided rain started to fall in little wisps. As the rain got braver and more insistent Studio Dog put her foot down. She was up for many activities including: squirrel chasing and maintenance, boundary fence reconnaisssance, barking practice, intruder notification services and kitchen floor spot cleaning; but she was not up for a walk in driving rain and strongly suggested we return to home base. I was hoping the walk would go on allow me to procrastinate about making it to the second swim practice (I was still sore and tired from yesterday's intensive 4,500 yards....) but the shortened walk left the door open for yet another swim practice. I didn't have a good reply thought up when Belinda asked, "Are you going to the ten o'clock???" so I grabbed the striped green and white towel I've been using at the pool every day for the last week and a half, pulled on some lightweight gloves and headed to the car. 

When I got to the pool five minutes later you could see puffy clouds of steam rising up from the surface of the water and mix with the heavy, cold, wet air. I could see from the parking lot the final throes of the first workout. Several people in the fast lanes were doing butterfly springs and tossing up spurts of white water behind them. I grabbed my swim bag from the car, tossed whatever camera had been sitting on the front seat under a hat and headed into the locker room. 

The walk from the locker room to the pool, and the reciprocal walk from the pool to the locker room, were the hardest parts of the workout. The rest was just good swimming and that's fun. Once you are in the water and warmed up everything is fun. And, to my mind, pushing off the end of the pool in a great streamlined form is one of the closest acts we humans get to controlled flying. It's fun. 

Our coach, Kristen, was bundled up as though we were in the middle of a blizzard but I guess she needs it because she's a very competitive triathlete with very little body fat to insulate her from the cold. Her bundled state didn't keep her from pushing us to get a bit of work done. Fun to swim some backstroke as freezing raindrops fall from the sky and smack into your goggles and your bare skin. 

When the clock struck 11 am (it's actually a digital display so the numbers just keep changing...) we were done and scampering off to the warmth of the new locker rooms the pool built last year. Very posh. 

On the way home I remembered that I'd given Studio Dog the very last of her bone shaped, liver treats last night and I decided to go by Tomlinson's pet store on the way home to see if they were open on Sunday. My devious plan went like this: If the store is open I will get the treats and then treat myself to a medium sized latté at the Starbucks in the same little shopping center. If the pet store is not open I'll just head home and make a cup of coffee in the Keurig miracle machine. It was cold enough outside that my concern about filling the landfills with little K-cups was overruled. 

The store was open and the treats acquired. Treats for dog and treats for swimmer. I splurged and also bought donut. Something very rare for me which makes me think that I'm getting soft since turning 60. Studio Dog greeted me (as usual) at the front door and, like a TSA agent, insisted on inspecting the bags in my hands. The donut got a passing nod but the liver flavored treats got a big "two paws up." She insisted on sampling one immediately so we doggedly went through our usual routine: She had to sit, shake hands and recite on Shakespeare sonnet in order to get her treat. She flubbed the sonnet but I relented and gave her the treat anyway. 

The rest of the day I'll putter around, cleaning up the studio, packing and re-packing odds and ends and then heading over to my friend house for dinner. Will is making us his very famous barbecued ribs. Should be just the right antidote for the bitter cold. 

In case you are interested I decided to take the Nikons with me to New Jersey next week. The only rationale I can think of is that they seem like cameras that would be comfortable in New Jersey and, maybe the post production will be easier. It was mostly a mental coin toss.