Filmmaker Blog and NOW PAGE by Tonya Shevenell - Feature is updated every weekend. Please scroll down to view history. The idea to start a NOW page came from Derek Sivers. Thank you, Derek!

here's what I'm doing now

posted August 7, 2017

  • picking up first batch of DVDs from Benchmark Multimedia in Biddeford!
  • opening the first box at Shevenell Park and sharing the first one with my great-great-great-grandfather, who inspired this whole story-telling, trek-taking, movie-making adventure of a journey with his 1845 journey and life
  • prepping and shipping DVD pre-orders
  • uploading the movie to Reelhouse, an online viewing platform where people can rent/buy the film (edit: another 21-hour work day that concluded - or I could say "blended" into the next day - at 4 am)

photo and quick ponder theme of the week: what's normal?

For the last four years, I’ve been working on The Home Road. For the last ten months, I’ve been working on it around the clock, save for activities of daily living and bill-paying.  

I work alone for hours into days some weeks. I’m surrounded by screens, cables, and lots of devices that plug into each other. My hardware is more social than I am. 

My engagement is mostly inside the movie - at edit points, where I wink and blink at scenery, people and voices. I interact with footage; but not a lot of "real-life" forms these days.

Yet, I've gotten used to this type of engagement and lifestyle. It's become my “normal.” 

Then all of a sudden, last week, the movie was done. 

(pause)

And I am left feeling kind of weird and wondering...

…Nowwww what’s normal? 

I looked up the definition of normal on my Merriam-Webster app, and the results got me further wondering if "what's normal" is a universal question, a universal craving or both.

normal (adjective)

1. usual or ordinary: not strange

2. mentally and physically healthy

Do you think it's harder to feel “normal” these days in general? What’s normal?

I’m going to see how my “normal” rolls this month now that the movie is done. Is there a new normal ahead? Will it build off an old normal behind? What can I learn from feeling abnormal in the middle?  

In the meantime, I am excited for the movie to have more than just me to look at it. In other words, The Home Road is ready for a new normal!

here's what I'm doing now

posted August 1, 2017

  • dropping off the DVD master to the manufacturer in Biddeford after a marathon work weekend

photo and quick ponder theme of the week: 21-hour Saturday, 17-hour Sunday, 18-hour Monday

It was a marathon sprint to The Home Road finish. Lots of coffee, overnight rendering and learning. (Might have been some "colorful" language in there occasionally around periods of silence and the whirring of devices). On Tuesday morning, makeup-less and feeling other-world-ly, I dropped off a master to Benchmark Multimedia in Biddeford, Maine. 

here's what I'm doing now

posted July 23, 2017

  • testing online viewing platforms for film
  • working with the DVD manufacturer in Biddeford on the master
  • getting in touch with media friends and outlets about August film release events
  • booking additional screening/q&a events (even our first few 2018 events!)

photo and quick ponder theme of the week: looking up, smiling

I couldn't help take a bunch of photos in downtown Dover (Foxcroft) Friday night. It was so fun to see the film's name up on the big marquis in front of the historic Center Theatre in daylight and in night lights! 

 

here's what I'm doing now

posted July 16, 2017

  • presenting a screening of the film in Dover-Foxcroft, ME
  • proofing artwork (DVD)
  • prepping media list for press releases about film release!

photo and quick ponder theme of the week: then and now...a return to the trek route

Courtesy of a film screening event in Colebrook, NH this weekend, Dad and I returned to the ancestral trek route two years and six weeks after we passed through the region on our way from Compton, Quebec to Biddeford, Maine. (Blog post in progress)

here's what I'm doing now

posted July 9, 2017

  • presenting a screening of the film in Colebrook, NH
  • sending artwork to DVD manufacturer
  • finishing bonus booklet and resource list

 

here's what I'm doing now

posted July 2, 2017

  •  finishing up editing
  • asking a few people to give this version a watch for last minute feedback
  • preparing DVD artwork
  • preparing bonus booklet and resource list

photo and quick ponder theme of the week: I love Sundays

When my brother and I were growing up, we spent almost every weekend between May 1st and Columbus Day on Frye Island (Sebago Lake - Maine) at our grandparents’ place, #71.  It was on the west side of the island, and we’d max out our Sundays (and sunsets) in the water until the last possible minute, jumping in the backseat of the car wrapped in towels only when the adults in charge decided it was time to make the car ferry.

Sunday evening drive-homes were bittersweet - the weekend was ending, but not before we’d stop at the DQ on Route 302 in Windham for an ice cream out of a collectible plastic baseball hat (or cone). Sometimes the Red Sox game would still be on, the outcome tipping the scale in favor of the bitter or the sweet. 

Their bittersweetness is part of the reason I love Sundays. The tension that comes from knowing you have to “go back” - to work, school or regular programming -  adds qualities to the rhythm of the day that I like.  In the awareness is aliveness.  I feel like I try harder to max out a Sunday before it melts into a Monday.  

Even if I’m maxing out….

…on rest.  

Or swimming with my little brother or taking a longer walk with a friend or making an unexpected detour on the way home for one more adventure.  

All those things help make me feel readier for what’s next; readier for the world. 

Here’s to Sundays (hip hip hooray!) or whatever day of the week your “Sunday” falls on.  

note: photos coming soon!

:

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted June 25, 2017

    • still (working on) sound design
    • still audio
    • still text
    • getting very, very close to saying “it’s done”
    • scheduling screening events
    • getting DVD pre-order sale going

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: The People's Historian

    When I started researching the story of Israel Shevenell, my first stop was the McArthur Public Library in Biddeford. I walked in, walked upstairs, and as I approached the reference desk to ask for help, there was my third-great-grandfather….on the wall, framed, a photo and a one page story about him in English and French. 

    It was a heckuva good start. 

    Sorta like having a giant cairn in the trail with your name on it.

    The historical research journey has felt magical like that at McArthur, mostly because of the people I’ve met along the way.

    Within my first couple of visits, I met Ray Gaudette.  Ray operated out of a special area of the library, (sort of like the cool back room you sense might be in a library and are delighted to find out actually exists) working with the York County Franco-American Genealogical Society and the Biddeford Historical Society. 

    “Volunteer” doesn’t do his capacity justice. 

    He was dear Mr. Do Everything. (term from Richard Charbonneau of the genealogy society)

    Like so many others, I looked to Ray for guidance, and he always gave it with a big huge twinkle in his eye. 

    In the fall of 2014, I hadn’t seen Ray around, so I sent him an email.  He wrote back that he had esophageal cancer and was going through treatments. I was familiar with the surgery he was going to have and sent him a couple of notes. On Christmas Day, he emailed that he’d had the surgery and that my faith in his recovery was appreciated. And Merry Christmas.  

    That was the last time I “spoke” with Ray. He died a few months later at the age of 78.

    Ray was a true ambassador to local history and a gentle giant of genealogy. 

    He was a guiding light to what came before us, kind of like a star.

    When I look up at the stars at night, I know the light I see from them left years and years and years ago to reach us. The night sky is a history lesson. The stars connect us to the past.

    So did Ray Gaudette. 

    Last week, a bench in his honor was dedicated in Biddeford’s Clifford Park. Stories were shared, and I was happy to be there, standing in his light. 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted June 18, 2017

    • working on sound design in three areas of the film
    • working on a couple of audio fixes
    • testing the use of text in a couple of new places
    • making tiny little wee adjustments to image, voice, video, music and sound placements so they work together more harmoniously

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Go-To Guy's Day

    On Saturday, December 15th, 2007, my Dad was on the way to the movies with my Mom when his thoracic aorta started to dissect. He never knew he had an enlarged aorta (undetected genetic condition).  My parents switched seats and direction. My Mom got him to the ER before his aorta ruptured. Medical professionals had just enough time to figure out what was going on and rush him into the operating room. Two emergency back-to-back open heart surgeries within the next 12 hours saved his life. So did the shape he was in. 

    He was 66. Now he’s 76, and this is our 10th Father’s Day with the refurbished aorta and the chance to celebrate life and family.

    Dad’s life-long commitment to being active and the joy he finds in being active and encouraging others to be active - walking, hiking, running, gardening - are among his greatest examples to me. His resiliency through difficult times and changes is another. I admire his faith. 

    I like taking walks with him. We talked about a lot today. Towards the end, I asked him to share something he loved about his Dad, Oscar, perhaps something I might not know, and he said:

    “His steadiness and street savvy, especially about carpentry, electricity, plumbing - he was my go-to guy.”

    Happy Father's Day to all!  I mean...

    Happy Go-To Guy’s Day!

     

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted June 11, 2017

    • editing the beginning segment of film
    • dealing with final 2-3 image replacements
    • working on animations on two maps and two illustrations

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: (in progress with photos from the trek, two years ago today- June 11, 2015)

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted June 4, 2017

    • making tiny edits
    • getting nervous and excited about Thursday's screening in Biddeford
    • planning official release schedule for online streaming and DVD sales

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: 730 days ago

    Two years ago today, Dad was walking from Lancaster to Bretton Woods, NH, retracing the journey of our pioneering ancestor, Israel Shevenell. “Trail magic” made this one of my favorite days of the two week trek.   (Disclosure: Besides the unexpected gifts of the day, it didn’t hurt that it was the best weather of the whole trip and that Dad was walking along the mountain majesty of the Presidential Range.)  

    We started the day crossing Israel’s River Bridge - a coincidence, the river is not named after our ancestor - but we wondered if it was not such a coincidence that this was the day that Dad felt the closest to his great-great-grandfather.

    Israel’s River kept him company, winding in and out of his pathway, for a few miles; we met a retired Army veteran, Josh and his dog, Noah, and they walked with Dad along their bucolic stretch of “home road” before passing him off to a bunch of monarch butterflies who seemed to be going our way. They flew with Dad for about a mile, accompanied by another welcome companion, the sun. It had been in hiding for most of the first four days but became a fast friend on trek day five.  

    That is until Dad hit the woods, when things got a little dark and the most beautiful day turned tough with long uphills and new walking companions: bugs and the increasing (on a scale of 10, 8) pain in both of Dad’s feet. 

    I picked a bad time to stop Dad for a quick film interview. The bugs were louder than he was and I couldn’t even get the focus right. I got a blurry, buggy interview with Dad who was understandably “bugged” by having to stop moving in the wooded thick of things. 

    One of the most memorable moments of the trek was when Dad emerged from the woods late in the day, looked to the east and saw Mount Washington. While it was grand to me, Dad’s reaction was mixed because he still had over a mile to walk to his destination down Route 302. 

    Except for the beginning and the end, June 4th, 2015 was the only day of the trek that Dad didn’t have to share the road with vehicles zooming by.  Without that “radio station” of modern day civilization in his ears, the sounds of nature and a sense of silence helped him imagine what it was like for Israel Shevenell in 1845, as he made his way through unfamiliar territory, nearly half-way between Compton, Quebec and Biddeford, Maine. 

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted May 22, 2017

    • figuring out whether version 7 of the new film trailer is the final version of the new film trailer…or if it will take 8
    • working with DVD templates and artwork and researching online streaming platforms
    • making final “to-do” list for film editing before first summer screening, June 8th!

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: All you do is switch seats

    On Sunday afternoon, I went to the final screening of the 2017 Maine Short Film Festival. There were 14 films, ranging in length (1 minute to 18 minutes long), subject, and style; but all had a direct connection to Maine. They were shown back-to-back-to-back on a big screen at Olin Arts Center in Lewiston. 

    What a ride. 

    The fun - I think - is not knowing what’s next. 

    Between each film, there was a pause, and that’s when I noticed how wide my eyes were and how far forward I was leaning in my seat.  The anticipation between each bite from the cinematic box of chocolates is part of what makes the experience so delicious. 

    And then those bites…just a sampling…

    • one took me “steaming away from the world” on a lobster boat; 
    • another brought me so hands-on with wooden yacht craftsmen in Rockport that I felt like I knew what it was like to be the boat being built; 
    • I got to “share in the magnificence” of nature with Maine wilderness guide, Ray Reitze and his mentees; 
    • I felt the intimacy and insulation of the work, space and time in a one-man bird carving studio; 
    • I got on an island marathon course with Michael Westphal - who runs with and raises money for Parkinson’s disease;
    • I went to the ocean bottom through an imagined experience of sailors aboard the Russian Submarine Kursk, who initially survived the August 12, 2000 underwater blast and wrote notes found with their bodies in the sunken vessel.

    It was exciting to watch the work of all of the filmmakers and inspiring to talk to some of them after the screening.

    “All you do is switch seats” came from Maine guide, Ray Reitze in the film, Guided, by filmmaker Bridget Besaw. 

    He was referring to the point when his apprentice would be ready to lead. 

    I loved that line so much I wrote it down in the dark.

    In the film you get a sense for the time and work, commitment and care, shared experiences and years of learning that goes into making a new leader. And making that moment. And then to have such a Simple, Beautiful way of describing it.  

    So delicious. 

    So Maine. 

    In a far lesser context, it was good for me to switch seats on Sunday afternoon, leaving my computer and film editing work to go to a theater and be a movie fan.

    At the end of June, after three and a half+ years, I’ll be done making my first feature length documentary film, The Home Road. I didn’t want to finish it without starting something new. 

    So I did. Last week, I started working on something I’ve been thinking about for a few months. 

    It’s a new adventure. It’s challenging. It’s on. 

    It’s a short film!

    note: I’m going to find another place online to talk about the new project (as this is The Home Road’s website afterall), but it felt natural to bring it up here as the idea came from this journey.

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted May 15, 2017

    • working on second draft of brand new movie trailer
    • developing the DVD and streaming strategies for the film
    • replacing a few images in the film

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted May 8, 2017

    • building brand new movie trailer
    • fine-tuning how pieces of film work together
    • coordinating screening events for this summer and fall (up to 8! - see home page for list) 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted May1, 2017

    • editing an early (trek preparation…i.e. background story) segment of film - less length, more punch
    • editing a historical segment of film - better images and pacing to help develop the story of a place
    • seeking better blend of sounds in a “city” section, two busy road sections and a mountain road section

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: believe

    “They’re not as far away as you think.”

    I woke up from a vivid dream this morning and wrote that down in my phone. 
    Then my phone buzzed. With the picture below.

    On a beach in Florida, my brother and niece, sister-in-law and friend caught this morning’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket flight on its northeastern trajectory before it landed at Cape Canaveral.

    In my head in a bed in Maine, my Mom told me about a cruise she just returned from until my brain caught up and remembered she’s dead. 

    Still dreaming, I tell the story to my Dad - with my Mom lying down now; and seemingly addressing my grandmother and others I can’t see; but still in the roomtalking.

    Dad says, “They’re not as far away as you think.”

    I say, “I just wanna understand.”

    I woke up with a charge. Energy. Conviction, even. Grabbed the phone and started typing.
    Then my phone buzzed. With the picture.

    It was like I was feeling a current flow by in a frequency (or currency) I’m not equipped to follow, yet it registered.

    A year ago today, my Mom came home from the hospital to die. 

    I don’t understand. I might believe.  

    Thank you, Frankie Butler, for capturing this moment on Cocoa Beach, Florida (may 1, 2017, 7:26 am)

    spacex.jpg

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted April 23, 2017

    • color-correcting
    • improving transitions throughout the film
    • booking screenings
    • investigating online streaming platforms/options
    • designing new trailer

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: (coming soon!)

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted April 16, 2017

    • waging through list of 154 things that still need to be done to finish film
    • color-correcting, a brand new endeavor to me so I'm learning as i go
    • re-narrating 10 segments that have room for improvement
    • booking screenings for the film!

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Second to last day (in progress)

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted April 9, 2017

    • reviewing rough cut of the film on YouTube and making editing notes
    • making two maps more interesting by animating
    • changing the timing and way several images move to music in the film
    • improving the look of text in a few places so that it reads easier on the screen

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Standing Still (Im)mobile

    I’m standing alone in a projection booth. It’s dark except for two squares and a lotta little lights glowing blue, green and red. One square is my laptop screen. It’s on a cart, attached to a stack of equipment (with the little glowing lights) by a thick cable. The other square is about two times the size of my laptop screen and 10 feet in front of me. It’s mostly obscured by the projection equipment, but from where I stand I can see a piece-of-pie-shaped glow of changing colors coming through it. 

    That glow is my movie, moving, on a big screen, in front of a room full of people in a theater, while I stand still, in the projection booth, watching it on the 13-inch square I made it on. 

    I’m scared. I stand there for 75 minutes, but it goes by like 5. 

    It’s a preview screening of a rough cut of my first film, The Home Road, at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, Maine on April 4th, part of a public event series produced by The Photography & Migration Project at Colby College. 

    Other than three early viewers, it’s the first time human beings see what I’ve been working on for three and a half years, including the leading character of the film who is on hand tonight, my Dad.

    But I’m too scared to join them. Just not ready.

    The Home Road is a film about movement and migration. It moves across time and miles and stories and in the process of making it, I’ve stretched my own story out. I’ve moved. It’s moved me. We’ve moved each other, but until today’s screening, we’ve been moving along mostly on our own. 

    The film was more ready than I was. 

    I met a kind audience when I finally emerged from the projection booth after credits rolled, and walked to the front of the theater for a q&a. 

    Tanya Sheehan, leader of The Photography & Migration Project and Colby College professor who invited me and the film to Waterville, has been writing a blog series this spring for Fotomuseum in Switzerland. She included The Home Road in an installment that was published days after the preview screening. Read the blog series here and see post #4 which includes two photos from the film.  

    Besides being deeply grateful and honored to a part of this essay, the post’s title, “(Im)mobility” with its immediate reflection on the word “mobility” (ability to move freely) took me right back to the surreal experience of standing still (immobile) behind my little laptop screen in the booth, while the film moved freely and large on that big screen out there with the people. 

    What a night. 

    PHOTOS: 1) standing still in the projection booth; 2) the post-screening question & answer and promotional post card (thank you Sue Lessard for photo and collage, thank you Colby College for the post card); and 3) Tanya Sheehan, Ray/Dad and I at the wonderful reception  in the Railroad Square Cinema lobby following screening and q&a!

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted April 2, 2017

    • spending too many hours in a row with headphones on listening and second-guessing audio levels and blends
    • adding credits and a piece of music to end of film
    • making last edits before preview screening
    • freaking out
    • preparing to test laptop connection with Railroad Square Cinema projection equipment Monday, a day ahead of the public preview screening with Colby College

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: on hiatus, but returning April 9th! 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted March 26, 2017

    • redoing narrations for tone purposes
    • redoing narrations because of a hum in the house I didn't notice in the background
    • learning about audio editing as I go - mostly the hard way - and wishing I was more aware back in production mode
    • routinely updating priority list of to-do's in anticipation of preview screening!

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: on hiatus, but returning soon!

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted March 19, 2017

    • editing audio, audio and more audio
    • adding 24 "new" archive photos to the film (thank you McArthur Library and Penobscot Marine Museum)
    • finessing a storyline that's given me fits, yet has survived thus far in the film without being cut

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: on hiatus because editing is full-on and full-time, but look forward to catching up on blog entries! 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted March 12, 2017

    • working on audio and animation
    • enjoying the presence of original music in the film thanks to the beautiful work of Maine composer, Sumner McKane
    • feeling very excited (and nervous!) about upcoming preview screening of film! (April 4th at 7 pm at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, Maine, free and open to public thanks to funding by Colby College - note: info on the official release and summer and fall screenings coming soon!)

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: on hiatus because editing is full-on and full-time, but look forward to catching up on blog entries! 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted March 5, 2017

    • working on credits and dedication
    • animating graphics (but trying not to go overboard with new tricks)
    • audio work

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: on hiatus because editing is full-on and full-time, but look forward to catching up on blog entries! 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Feb 26, 2017

    • continuing to hunt down archive photos to replace placeholders in current version of film
    • having a tug-o-war in my head trying to decide on final cuts
    • working with music composer as the film's score is developed

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: will return soon! Editing is full-on and full-time, but look forward to catching up on blog entries! 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Feb 19, 2017

    • hunting down archive photos to replace placeholders in current version of film
    • developing map animations
    • making general sweep of film to prioritize audio work

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: will return soon! Editing is full-on and full-time, but look forward to catching up on blog entries! 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Feb 12, 2017

    • merging multiple project files into one master file in editing software
    • uploading a rough draft version of the film to composer
    • feeling very excited about the addition of music to the film

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: blog on temporary hiatus

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Feb 5, 2017

    • working out storyline for older generation family members towards end of film
    • working out placement of story about a recent generation family member
    • trying to space out the film rhythmically, imagining music that will eventually be there

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: blog on temporary hiatus

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Jan 29, 2017

    • feeling good that the halfway mark of the film from a content and story standpoint is where the film is from a running time standpoint - they line up! 
    • also feeling good about the overall running time of the movie at this stage in editing
    • however…feeling mixed about the 3-4 minutes I’m going to need to cut to get to targeted running time eventually

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: blog on temporary hiatus

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Jan 22, 2017

    • working out the last couple of (look-back) scenes
    • learning about color correcting
    • realizing my eyes are buggier than they were before this recent deep work in front of screens

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: will return soon! Editing is full-on and full-time, but look forward to catching up on blog entries! 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Jan 15, 2017

    • pairing - trying different combinations of photo, video, narration, silence, music interviews, text and sounds with each other
    • paring - the film's 10-15 minutes too long at the moment
    • pepere-ing - Dad's Pepere, my great-grandfather Henry, has become an important character. Developing his story in two places in the film. 

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: blog on temporary hiatus

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Jan 8, 2017

    • preparing for and conducting one more interview
    • re-writing and recording narrations in first half of film
    • testing titles and typeset

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: blog on temporary hiatus 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Jan 1, 2017

    • adding recently acquired archive photos of Biddeford (thank you McArthur Public Library!)
    • finessing an early section of the film that's designed to feel cold
    • cross-checking the film with my trek journal to make sure it captures Dad's arc

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: blog on temporary hiatus 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Dec 25, 2016

    • recording narrations
    • consulting with a historian
    • editing my you-know-what off

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Inside the Blog

    Happy 1st Birthday, Blog!

    A year ago on Christmas, I started the NOW page and weekly blog post with a couple of paragraphs about dandelions. “Now” the garden has grown to 52 entries!

    “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” - Millard Fuller, co-founder of Habitat for Humanity. 

    Blogging (writing, journaling…whatever you want to call it) is a great proving ground for Millard Fuller’s observation.  

    It’s reeeeal easy to over-think a blank page. 

    More frequently for me, it’s reeeeeal easy to get tangled up in the middle of six or seven thoughts …right about…now. 

    To Fuller’s point, by writing (acting) my way through versus thinking my way through, it’s easier to make blogs out of blank pages.

    Even if it’s really bad, irrelevant or gibberish, I write my way out of “blog-jams”.  Then I go back, tweak and prune, and post. 

    No-detour writing is not the norm for me but once in a great while it happens. 

    Some call it FLOW. 

    When it happens, it’s like Christmas (hey it IS Christmas!).

    This one had no flow. I got twisted all around in different directions, so I wrote my way through with a diatribe on caffeine, then tweaked and pruned like a person on too much caffeine. 

    Earlier today, though, I wrote last week’s blog (12/18 entry). It was a week late, but it flew! 

    Just like Christmas! 

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Dec 18, 2016

    • working on the end of the film
    • backing up from the end of the film
    • working from music references to help pace the film

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: A Bow to Biddeford

    In the summer of 2014, I was in an informal meeting with a Biddeford High School teacher I’d never met before at the Pepperell Mill Campus lobby cafe. I was telling her about my documentary film idea and research, and she was sharing information about school projects related to local history. 

    I was unsure of myself…going around telling people I'm going to make a documentary film…with no experience and almost no resources…this is crazy.  I have no idea what I’m doing…

    I started to cry. Not out-loud cry, but unstoppable-flow-of tears cry. Now I felt unsure of myself, embarrassed and six years old. I said, “I’m sorry,” and as hard as I tried to pull it together, I couldn't. 

    You know what she did? 

    She gave me a look of reassurance and kept the conversation going. 

    Without missing a beat, she gave me the time and confidence to pull it together until I was back on the train of ideas, story and possibilities. 

    I left feeling like she “got this” whole crazy notion better than I did. And believed in it. 

    You know what’s crazier than that?

    That’s how Biddeford has made me feel this entire unlikely ride. 

    From the public library to the mill buildings, from genealogy meetings to festival events, from Biddeford’s highest perches to its “cathedral” of canals underground, from creative arts spaces to serene cemetery places…

    I have felt welcome and accepted by kindred spirits. There are distinct passions for history and story that inhabit Biddeford, and the downtown corridor’s past, present and future buzz in a uniquely whole way together. Against this backdrop of people and places, my curiosity and imagination run vs. roam and I’ve been free to try, do, stumble, and fall down; feeling the city is ready and expecting me to get back up, learn and grow. 

    In short, Biddeford has made me feel comfortable in my own skin - a rare state of being - especially while trying something new and challenging.

    Maybe this is how my great-great-great grandfather felt 171 years ago.

    Thank you, 04005.

     

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Dec 11, 2016

    • logging media from last week’s two interviews
    • testing the addition of two short segments to the film
    • anticipating an editing negotiation - with myself - if I decide to keep the new segments, I probably need to let something else go

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Bunglesome

    Whiner alert! 

    Here comes a whine:

    Unwieldy. That’s how I’d describe my week in independent movie-making-land. My mind (hi!) and my matter (the beast…I mean…the body of work that is my film) are all the synonyms for unwieldy in the thesaurus- cumbersome, cranky, ponderous, ungainly, unhandy, awkward, and the rest. 

    The starts and stops in editing are tedious, but the “stucks” are mood-tankers. I got stuck for the better part of two days last week trying to build a bridge between scenes and I felt foul.  My food didn’t taste good. Actually, I was annoyed by food. I was annoyed by almost everything. Especially salad dressing and trucks.

    On the third day, I found the bridge. It had been there all along, hiding in another part of the film. When I figured out that all I had to do was move a bridge instead of building the one that wasn’t working, Paul Newman and I immediately made up over a delicious dinner salad. 

    For the record, I like trucks, and I like the word “bunglesome," my favorite synonym for unwieldy.

    Note: Photos coming!

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Dec 4, 2016

    • recovering from a hard drive failure
    • feeling fortunate that I had backed up all my files the night before the hard drive failure
    • conducting two more interviews for the film (weather permitting for one of them)
    • going through new archive photos acquired last week and picking the best

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Two Lucias, two different December birthdays

    I was packing up my bass guitar after a gig the other night when a woman came over to say that she’d enjoyed the music. Then she said her name was Lucia, which opened a conversation about my niece, Lucia. We quickly moved into a conversation about Italian heritage which led to the story of her mother coming over from Italy on a transatlantic steamer…in steerage; to how in 1939, officials came to her Italian neighborhood in Portland and took away radios out of fear that immigrants might conspire against America if they were influenced by Fascist propaganda broadcasts and in communication with Mussolini. 

    I was riveted. I forgot all about coiling cables and loading out gear. 

    Lucia went on to tell me about her “gig” as one-half of the brother-sister traveling magic act of Lloydinni and Lucia. She was the 7th of 10 kids. I wonder what the other 8 did. 

    Lucia looks like she can still make magic. She’s spry, she looks you right in the eye, and when she said, “I’m happy.”, her expression was as transformative as her stories. 

    Happy 77th Birthday, Lucia.  (photo of Lucia and her brother!)

    Happy 2nd Birthday, Lucia.   (photo of Lucia and her mother...and ta-da! on the beach!)

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Nov 27, 2016

    • working on the beginning - going back and forth on how to lead into the film. 
    • working on the end - it’s tempting to keep ending the film. I know better. I know where it should end. 
    • working in some newly acquired archive photos

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Le fin?

    There’s a tidy ending to The Home Road film.

    I see it. It’s obvious. I know where it should stop.

    But it’s not that simple.

    Life isn’t tidy. Many endings are not tidy.

    When you finish a big meal, there’s no tidy ending. You still have to digest it. 

    When a relationship ends, it’s not tidy. You have to digest that too.

    I’m tempted to make The Home Road film go a liiiiiiiiitttle longer than it “should”.

    It’s not about length - what I’m proposing would only add two minutes and that would be fine. It’s about breadth - ending in the right place, making the journey feel complete but not overdone. 

    To make it work, that "liiiiiiiiitttle longer" extra has got to be more than digestible, it’s got to be…well…tidy. 

    And satisfying.

    Like a win in overtime.  

    I know what I have to do: end the movie at “regulation” where it has a tidy and obvious conclusion OR work hard to make those two extra minutes worthy of overtime.

    To be continued.

    Photos: Dad's detailed itinerary of ancestral trek day 13 - the march to the finish! Middle photo: on his way to the finish that day. Archive photo of a race finish when he ran for Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine. 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Nov 20, 2016

    • working in middle segments of the film. there’s definitely a well-defined middle but pulling out of the well-defined middle definitively is hard. I could write a whole blog about that, but I won’t…yet.
    • trying to get unstuck in the middle (did I already mention that?)
    • peeling out of the middle. with a few herks and jerks.

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Thanksgiving slice in time

    I started working on the film in the fall of 2013, making this the fourth Thanksgiving its been on my plate. The first year, it was the size of a couple of peas and didn’t have a name. The second year, it was the size of a few more peas and a polite blob of turnip. It had a name and a trailer and the topic of Dad making an ancestral trek was in the holiday conversation mix. In 2015, with the trek done, a short video about the trek done and post-production underway, it took up the starch side of the plate - potatoes, stuffing, roll, squash - and a few bites of pie.

    Now it’s 2016. If I’m not doing something elemental to keeping myself alive and paying bills, I’m all over the heaping plate that is The Home Road. I’m in the meat of it and working on every fixing. Dessert - getting it (musically) scored and ready for sharing - is almost in the oven.

    I don’t know how it’s going to come out - this thing I’ve been prepping, tinkering with and cooking for over three years - but I’m going to serve it. How it goes over will teach me a lot; lessons I can’t learn any other way. 

    I picked this week’s photos when I was going down a slightly different blog path but decided to keep them. That’s my grandfather, Oscar, at the wheel of his car…guessing around 1930. I like the tension in it - I don’t know what he’s looking at ahead but he’s going to shift gears and drive on. The farmer is from Canada. I like the reap, sow, harvest theme for this week. And finally, I came across this photo looking through some Canadian archives and the mood made me smile, especially given the film’s name, “Hiver Bleu”.

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Nov 13, 2016

    • working on day 8 and day 9 editing of trek footage
    • continuing hunt for archive photos
    • hoping to resume recording narrations (today is day 11 of bad cold!)

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: poetic comment from the road; stars in the sky

    One morning on a trek route scouting trip through Western Maine, Dad and I stopped for a late breakfast. The restaurant was off the beaten path, and we had it almost to ourselves. There were old photos of the area on the walls around the dining room, and naturally curious, we walked around with our faces leaning in to the images reading captions. 

    On one end of the room, there were windows that looked out on an old train depot, remnants overgrown by time and nature. I was standing in front of a photo on this wall when a young waitress came up behind me and sighed. She looked out the window and said, “yep….that used to be the history of it.”

    There was something so poetic about that.

    It’s a life moment I can slip myself back into with ease, her words hanging in my memory like they hung in that room.  The photo I was looking at was a picture of the train depot back in the day, its busier former self framed and mounted against the backdrop of its quiet today outside the windows. 

    I bet I’ve thought of those words two hundred times since then and even borrowed them a few times. They have an innocent way of expressing a particular sense of melancholy when thinking about how a place or things used to be. 

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    I was reminded of the young waitress’ sage comment again on Sunday, looking up at the super moon and stars.

    Light from the moon takes 1.3 seconds to reach us and light from the sun takes about 8 minutes. The next nearest star is Proxima Centauri and its light takes over four years to get to us. 

    Most of the light our eyes see from twinkling stars has taken hundreds to a couple thousand years to get to us. Light from Polaris, the North Star, for example, has been on a 680 year journey; which means what we see out there in 2016 left in 1336. That’s a heckuva trek.

    In a way, astronomy is a history lesson. In some cases, ancient history. Telescopes are able to see objects so far away that their light is millions and billions of years old.  Imagine. Our view of the universe- what we look up to for inspiration, navigation, knowledge and direction - is a great big window on the past.

    Whew.

    That bends my mind about as far as it can go without pulling a muscle. 

    Tonight as I stand gazing out my bedroom window on ancient light arriving in the form of a twinkling star, the magic phrase applies… yep, that used to be the history of it.

    Photos: Dad in the restaurant on the scouting trip mentioned above; photo from one of my Great Uncle's scrapbooks captioned: Beatrice and her Studebaker, 7/25 - Studebakers stopped being made in the '60's; Portland, Maine's Union Station where my great-grandfather engineered trains for the Boston & Maine - he and Union Station "died" in 1961; and an illustration of an 1811 sky with the ancient lights and an unexpected visitor. 

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Nov 6, 2016

    • working on day 2 and day 3 editing of trek footage
    • looking for additional archive photos
    • backing up files regularly

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Routine

    I heard someone comment recently about living an improvisational life. I get that. 

    I’ve been house and two-dog-sitting for 17 days and as I’m packing up the little satellite world I moved in here with - electronics and work tools, notebooks and office supplies, guitar and an amp, clothes and personal items - I’m aware of what I’ll miss.

    Routine. 

    The dogs have a schedule, and while there’s room for some improv - they’ll chase a squirrel in the backyard any time - there’s a rhythm to their day, and as their owners pointed out, “they can tell time.” 

    Like clockwork, they would prompt me if I was off-schedule, and I was no match for two dogs and four puppy eyes. 

    Self-employment can feel like living an improvisational life. 

    I’ve been self-employed for over 16 years, and the word “routine” doesn’t naturally fit into the description. Routine has to be built in, but that can be easier said than done. It requires discipline, but not rigidity. The calibration is further complicated by the ever moving lines of “work day” and “work place” and the blur of personal and professional life identities. 

    Transcending employment status, there’s another force at hand that challenges our relationship with routine. Rapid technological change is a revolution that’s not on our doorstep; it’s inside the house and making itself home. In fact, it’s remaking our homes and asserting itself on our routines, both personal and professional, and the blur in-between.

    This can feel unsettling - going about our days, yet sensing that things are changing faster around us. It’s like being on one of those moving walkways in an airport, controlled by a faceless algorithm we can’t talk to. It’s hard to feel grounded when the “earth” is constantly moving under our feet.

    Alas, it always is…at 67,000 miles per hour around the sun. AND…we’re spinning… at several hundred miles per hour, depending on our location’s distance from the equator. 

    And that…is routine. 

    I’ve just comforted myself and made myself dizzy at the same time. 

    Back to the dogs. 

    The dogs offered me a reminder of how good routine, ritual and rhythm can feel against the backdrop of an improvisational life and the whir of natural and artificial forces in motion.

    Photos: Walks and naps. Good stuff. 

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Oct 30, 2016

    • writing and recording narrations for day 1 and day 5 of trek
    • adjusting to new version of Final Cut Pro X (10.3 update - I like it!)
    • editing with an eyeball and/or ear to the World Series and Bruins games at night

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week:  178 Elm

    For however long I’ve been working on The Home Road documentary, I’ve known that my ancestor Israel was very involved in the building and early administration of St. Joseph’s Church in Biddeford. He hauled granite blocks in a wagon he owned to help build it and served as Treasurer for the church as a lifelong dedicated parishioner.

    St. Joseph’s was established as a parish in 1870 and quickly outgrew its original facility. In 1873, ground was broken on the church that stands on Elm Street today. In 1883, it was officially dedicated and had the distinction of being Maine’s tallest building for almost 100 years.*

    I’ve driven by the church several times. I've never been inside.

    On Sunday morning, October 30th, Dad and I walked through the door for 8 am mass, and my jaw dropped.

    It’s beautiful and big, yet warm and welcoming. There’s no wonder it took a decade to build. 

    The mass we attended was done partly in French and partly in English and the blend tied heritage, past and present together. I felt good in this space. I felt pride and respect for the vision and hard work of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people it took to build it. 

    Dad and I had the opportunity to connect with our ancestor, Israel, when we retraced his pioneering 1845 journey from Compton, Quebec to Biddeford last year.  The experience of being in a place he helped build - nearly 150 years after it was established - was another profound connection. It made me think about what it must have been like to be a part of this massive structure going up and how it must have felt when it was done.

    Dad commented that he felt “home”. 

    I think that might be the highest compliment he could pay to the thousands of people who built St. Joseph's and have maintained it for generations to gather. 

     

    here's what I'm doing now

    posted Oct 23, 2016

    • adding voices to the film
    • collapsing a segment into another
    • moving a couple of scenes around

    photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Fact or folklore

    There’s a story about my young great-great-great-grandfather traveling on foot back to Canada from Biddeford, Maine in the company of a little dog. It’s impossible to confirm its validity, but part of me hopes it’s not true since it’s a sad story. The dog doesn’t make it.

    Fact or folklore, the tale is out there, courtesy of an article that was published in the 1940’s in a Pepperell Mills company newsletter. Someone recently asked me about the “Jack Russell Terrier” that followed my ancestor on his journey. That adds mystery to the mix, as I can’t tell if the Jack Russell breed had migrated to America from its origin in England by the mid-1840’s. 

    That’s probably easier to verify but since we’ll have to wonder about Israel and his traveling companion, I’ll add some questions: would he have spoken to the dog in French or English? what would he have named the dog? I wonder where the little dog died along the trek. 

    It just so happens that I’m dog-sitting for a couple of weeks, but I’m not going to mention this story around here.  I don’t know if it’s true and why perpetuate a sad story about a little dog to two little dogs. 

    Bonus dog trivia: Before Dad embarked on the nearly 200-mile ancestral trek in 2015, he predicted he’d run into 42 dogs along the way. The actual number was 10 well-behaved (usually leashed/fenced) dogs; 14 if you count Beso, Skye, Patch and Lucky who lived in places we stayed. 

    Photos and video (note: video coming): On the last night of Dad’s ancestral trek in June 2015, I stopped by the home of the two little dogs as they live conveniently close to Biddeford. Lucky was an accessory to a report that night. The video and other photos are from now - Oct 23, 2016, and include a “just-now” rookie dog-sitting move, i.e. reaching for the shampoo in the shower and coming within an inch of squirting the dog’s stuff on my head (I saw the dog on the bottle and my brain processed what was in my hand in the nick of time).

    here's what I'm doing now: 

    post from Oct 16, 2016 (I've been re-writing, but in the meantime, I'm posting an Irish blessing by John O'Donahue related to work)

    This is from the book, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

    A Blessing

    May the light of your soul guide you.

    May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart. 

    May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul. 

    May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work. 

    May your work never weary you.

    May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration, and excitement. 

    May you be present in what you do. 

    May you never become lost in the bland absences.

    May the day never harden.

    May the dawn find you awake and alert, approaching, your new day with dreams, possibilities, and promises. 

    May evening find you gracious and fulfilled. 

    May you go into the night blessed, sheltered, and protected.

    May your soul calm, console, and renew you. 

      here's what I'm doing now

      posted Oct 9, 2016

      • culling film segments
      • re-writing narrations
      • squeezing juice from fruit and throwing away the lemons (more editing)

      photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Economy of Expression 

      In constructing the first draft of the film, I had my favorites, and I put them in. 

      In deconstructing the first draft into the second, many have to go.

      Certain segments obviously don’t work anymore, so it’s not hard to cut them. 

      What’s hard are the “golden nuggets’ - the clips I fell in love with first; the ones I kinda sorta thought I was making a movie around; those best scenes! that on their own are still golden! - but …now …don’t quite make sense. They stick out.  Not like sore thumbs, but as in “what are those thumbs doing there?” 

      They’re golden nuggets, but a golden chain they do not make. 

      I still have a couple of thumbs in the mix, but they’re more like hitchhikers hoping for a ride if I can get clever enough to make them work somehow or somewhere else in the film. 

      The Home Road is a heckuva proving ground for multimedia economies of expression, hitchhikers and all.

      In the spirit of this week’s topic, here are a few “economies of expression” we saw along the 2015 ancestral trek between Compton Quebec and Biddeford Maine.

       

       

      here's what I'm doing now

      posted Oct 2, 2016

      • using new storyboard to make work flow and editing decisions
      • adding a segment to the film on home life in the early 20th century
      • replacing placeholder (temporary) media with keepers (archive and current)

      photo and Not-quick ponder theme of the week: Empathy & Compassion, courtesy of David Ortiz and the 2004 World Series - Part Two

      NOTES: See September 25th post for Part One. If you're not a fan of baseball and/or have a low tolerance for Red Sox talk, please scroll down to September 18th & beyond, because the following might drive you nuts.

      Some of my earliest childhood memories include Red Sox baseball games on the radio. Some of my most recent memories include Red Sox baseball games on the radio. Arguably the most consistent and enduring soundtrack in my life is the kind that comes in nine innings and lasts about 3 hours.  When I was little I wanted to grow up to be a Red Sox game announcer.  

      As a longterm impassioned fan, my Red Sox self has a before and an after.  If you could take a core sample from my soul and study it, you’d wonder what happened on and about October 27th, 2004. 

      It wasn’t just that the 2004 Red Sox broke the 86-year World Series curse by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. It was how they got to the 2004 World Series that made it so transformative. They were down 0 games to 3 in the American League Championship Series and down by a run in the ninth inning of game 4 when they battled back, tied it and beat the archrival Yankees in extra innings on a home run by David Ortiz. They won the next three games and became the first and only Major League Baseball team to come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series. 

      It was epic. The stakes and the circumstances. It was like they won the Universe Series before they won the World Series. 

      “Once in a lifetime” doesn’t describe it. 

      Once. 

      That was Once upon a time. 

      No way to top it. So where do you go as a fan following the highest high you’ll ever feel with your team?

      For a ride…on the shoulders of Big Papi, David Ortiz, the MVP of the Universe Series, and the man responsible for making the next 12 years - these last 12 years - an incredible era of passionate post-curse-busting Red Sox baseball.

      Big Papi inhabits the game with power and poetry. His body, batting stance, big smile, the way he runs around the bases and the way he crosses the plate -hands and eyes to the sky after a home run - are the quiet signatures of his presence that complement the loud cracks of his bat and the eruptions of cheers across Red Sox Nation. 

      David Ortiz! David Ortiz! David Ortiz!

      What a career. What a player. What a guy.

      It takes a helluva blend of experiences, hard work, talent, care and character to produce so many larger than life moments in a way that makes them feel large AS life. Man, am I gonna miss Big Papi. 

      Among many honors and recognitions presented before the final regular season home game of the year, it was announced that a road and a bridge leading to Fenway Park in Boston will be named in Big Papi’s honor.

      It takes a team, coaches, management, ownership, community, fans and even a few lucky breaks to win a championship…

      …and that extra bit of fuel in the clutch.

      We were on fumes Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS when the team turned it around fueled by the most important home run in Red Sox history (in my opinion). David Ortiz led the parade when we finally turned the corner on the road we’d been traveling for 86 years and celebrated the 2004 World Series win.  “David Ortiz Drive” is the name of the new road. 

      From there, Big Papi bridged what could easily have been the biggest “now-what?” let-down in Boston sports history.

      Instead, we had more passionate baseball; sweeping highs and division basement lows, two more World Series winning seasons, new team and league records, and the unforgettable intensity and intention following the Boston Marathon bombing through the face, heart, shoulders and play of David Ortiz.  In his honor, the Brookline Avenue Bridge will be renamed the David “Big Papi” Ortiz Bridge. 

      Meanwhile, there’s still more baseball to play and history to be written. He ain’t done yet!

      A somewhat unexpected side effect of crying my way through Big Papi’s retirement season is compassion for a retiring Yankee (see last week’s blog post) and empathy for fans I don’t know in Chicago.

      Chicago Cubs fans are like Red Sox fans pre-October 2004. Only worse-off. Their drought has been on for 107 years. 

      They haven’t even played in a World Series since 1945.  Ouch, that is a struggle. 

      If the Chicago Cubs make it to the World Series for the first time in 71 years, they could face the face of our salvation, the only active player still on the roster from the 2004 World Series, David Ortiz.

      How powerful and poetic would that be? 

      My empathy has its limits. 

      Go Sox!

      Photos: A favorite headline the day after the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS; a picture of Babe Ruth before the curse; another page from the October 21, 2004 Daily Sports News. Red Sox announcers from 1984 and the 1906 Chicago Cubs (the 1908 Cubs team was the last to win the World Series, meaning my great-great-great grandfather was still around!)

      here's what I'm doing now

      posted September 25-29, 2016

      •  re-storyboarding the film on a huge piece of paper (I crumpled up my last storyboard attempt a couple of months ago and hucked it in a corner)
      • meeting with an industry professional to get sequencing work flow tips for Final Cut Pro X (I would have crumpled up my timeline by now too, but it’s digital…and unwieldy…and driving me crazy)
      • organizing an important interview I still need to do

      photo and Not-quick ponder theme of the week: Empathy & Compassion, courtesy of David Ortiz and the 2004 World Series - Part One

      This week I watched the Red Sox clinch the AL East division - rather, I was watching them when they learned that they had clinched the AL East division.  It was the bottom of the 9th, and smiles ran around the Sox dugout and field like a wave when the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium flashed a final score from Toronto, giving the Red Sox and their fans the title.

      Then I watched Mark Teixeira, the 36-year-old first baseman for the Yankees, hit the first walk-off grand slam of his career, four days before his comparatively quiet* retirement. And the Yankees won the game**.   

      There was a brief intermission for my gut to react to losing a game we “had.”

      But then…

      I smiled. I nodded. And in a hazy, surreal sort of compassionate mumble of emotions, I said, “good for you, Teixeira.” 

      Out loud. 

      Younger, rawer versions of my Red Sox self would be stunned. 

      I grew up on Red Sox baseball games. I memorized rosters and stats, collected baseball cards, and made posters for home games…as in, games I watched at home…with my brother…in our little red ranch on Fenway Road.  Yes, we lived in a red house on a road called Fenway. Monster seats were created with a big round wooden table  - it was painted green - draped with an (also green) tablecloth staged in such a way that we could obscure the television when the team needed our superstitious help to win.  Camped out on the floor under the Green Monster with snacks and posters, we could cheer our team on or hold our breaths and cross our fingers, toes, arms and legs - whatever they needed - especially against the rival (boooooooooo!) New York Yankees.

      Unfortunately, our help wasn’t entirely enough, and into the new century, we grown-up kids remained frozen in an 80-something-year World Series curse. The frustration was compounded to new heights (depths) on October 16, 2003 when the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending us back to the freezer. 

      I remember backing away from that television like a crab. Barefoot. Because I’d thrown my socks at it - at a party. I left without saying a word. And the all-time grittiest edgiest version of my Red Sox self got in the car and drove off…

      …into 2004. (to be continued in Oct 2 post)

      *make that a whisper. compared to Big Papi’s farewell season. 

      **although I was watching the game on NESN, in my head I could hear Yankees radio announcer John Sterling’s excited victory cry, “Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeee Yankees win!”, most likely following one of his signature custom home run calls, “Mark sends a Tex message! You’re on the Mark, Teixeira!”

       

         here's what I'm doing now

        posted September 18, 2016

        • reviewing narrations and lining up guest voices for the film
        • searching for archive films and photos
        • testing editing decisions and effects

        photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Stillness in Motion

        Today was a rain-drippy, humid mid-September Sunday. It felt still around here. A slug sort of surprised me on my studio steps - not an “eek” surprise, but an “I’ll be darned” surprise - after I read that on a warm, rainy day, a slug will show up on the base of your foundation on the shady north side. I pulled out my compass and set it next to the slug and sure enough it was inching between true and magnetic north.

        I also read that I could probably find a slug nibbling on lettuce in the garden, so hoping to find one to see if it was eating on the north side of the leaves, I went out back with my compass. Unfortunately I didn’t find one, so I can’t report on that theory, but I did take a stupid amount of pictures of cherry tomato rainbows and cherry tomato beach balls and cherry tomato lanterns with rain drop bulbs. 

        Earlier today I was thinking that it was three years ago this month that I started working on the film. In September, 2013, I got my first library card in decades and took out a book, “La Foi - La Langue - La Culture: The Franco-Americans of Biddeford, Maine” by Michael J Guignard. The seasons have changed many times since then, yet time has moved slowly. Work has been in motion for over a thousand days - that’s a lot of work and a lot of movement - yet there’s a stillness to it all. 

        I was going to end this week’s note by making an example of the slug. It inches along a northernly bearing…like me…making this film. 

        Now Im questioning whether I want to compare myself to a slug when an arguably cuter and more endearing snail might do. 

        (DEEP THOUGHT BUBBLE)

        Sticking with the slug.  Considering the current pace I’m on and the progress I’ve made, it’s a better comparison.  While only a theory, I’m thinking slug beats snail in a race, because the slug doesn’t carry around the little backpack (shell) that slows things to a snail’s pace.  Yep, that's deep. 

        I took all of this week’s photos today, Sunday September 18, 2016.

        here's what I'm doing now

        posted September 11, 2016

        • remembering

        photo and not-so quick ponder theme of the week: stories 

        It was after breakfast in the lobby, and we were walking upstairs to our hotel rooms to change.  We were at the Embassy Suites Hotel at the Nashville Airport; I was with my husband and his bandmates. They were scheduled to make a TV appearance later that morning to promote their evening show at the Tennessee State Fair.

        The show never happened. Nor did the TV appearance. It was Tuesday morning, September 11th, 2001. 

        We were walking upstairs, and a friend called from Maine and said “turn on the TV.”

        I remember my husband pacing back and forth on the hotel room floor carpet.

        I remember sitting on the hotel room floor carpet, shoulder to shoulder with one of his bandmates, our backs against the end of the bed, looking up at the TV all morning like two wide-eyed, horrified kids. 

        Later in the day, I remember watching a cat named Morris eat green olives off a linoleum floor while we talked with our friend Kenny about getting the band home. No planes were flying. 

        I remember above all the rest of the chaos, concerns, uncertainties, and disbelief, a question: 

        What does this mean?

        The shock and acute feelings of being IN that day and IN that week are easy to access. Bearing witness in real-time to unimaginable imagery in the sky and on the ground made danger feel clear, present and terrifying. Experiencing “9/11” meant experiencing vulnerability and mortality. Exploring “9/11” left an unfamiliar ache and sense of loss. 

        What was “normal” shifted that day. The new “normal” - maybe a better word is “baseline” as I don’t know that “normal” can describe an ever-changing and evolving world or life - a new “baseline” emerged, even after the comfort of familiar routines returned. 

        The new baseline came with a deeper understanding of what a “routine day” is. There isn’t one.

        The new baseline came with a greater emotional wing span for feeling and appreciating the highs, knowing inevitably you need that fuel to power you through the lows.

        On the morning of August 7, 1974, a crowd on the ground looked up and gasped at what they saw between the Twin Towers. It was a high-wire-walker performing a quarter mile above their heads. Over 45 minutes, he made 8 crossings between the two buildings, walking, laying down on the wire cable and kneeling and saluting his cheering onlookers. Witnesses described it as “once in a lifetime,” “amazing,” “like watching a man walk on a cloud.”

        I watched the documentary, Man On Wire, this weekend for instructional purposes, as I wanted to see how the filmmaker told the story of Philippe Petit through recreation, interviews and going back and forth in time. When I saw the Twin Towers through the lens of this story - which includes archive footage of their construction and absolutely incredible imagery from this “once in a lifetime” performance - it tugged on my emotional wing span from both directions. 

        An 18-year old French high-wire artist saw an article about the Twin Towers being built in America and said it was the day he “acquired his dream.”  And six years later, he soared. With his dream, with those brand new twin towers. 

        27 years, one month and four days later, how many dreams were lost. With those twin towers. 

        Note: this week's photos from slides scanned and digitized of a family trip we took in Dad's station wagon from Maine to NYC in the '70's 

         

          here's what I'm doing now

          posted a little after September 4, 2016

          • bringing a couple of special guests into the film thru voice and photography
          • writing narrations
          • smoothing out a secondary storyline that runs through the film
          • finding Marjo

          photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Connection & Kindness

          Dad and I stayed at a very special place when we visited the homeland (Compton, Quebec) of our ancestor, Israel Shevenell, in 2014 and 2015. It was a B&B called Belle Ancolie and it was owned and operated by Marjolaine Bergeron. "Marjo" made us feel at home and like family. The morning Dad started his 200-mile trek, Marjo prepared a wonderful breakfast, and the three of us had conversations I'll always remember (and not just because I was filming some of them).  At one point, Marjo was talking about how people can come into your life - even briefly - and make a difference. We were so lucky to have three stays with Marjo. I'm not sure if she is still operating the B&B after an email I tried to send her was returned, but I'm on a mission to find out this week. 

          Marjo was a spark and a sparkle, and it was from her front door that Dad said a prayer, said good-bye and started his long journey on foot to Biddeford. 

          Days later, as Dad made his way through the Great North Woods region of NH towards the Presidential Mountain Range, he met others along the way who offered kindness out of their curiosity and care for him and what he was doing. 

           

          here's what I'm doing now

          posted a little after August 28, 2016

          • re-doing film treatment of Day 4 of Trek
          • writing narration scripts
          • making media collection tactical plan for September

          photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Perspective, Perception & Nitroglycerin

          This week is tough going with the film. it feels like I’m trying to blast through a mountain with a Bic lighter and a box of sparklers. I could use some dynamite and a crew. (A dynamite crew would do!)  Some stretches flow and work progresses rapidly, but other sections are dense and I make about an inch of progress in an entire day.  

          Back in the mid/late 1860’s, workers tasked with constructing the section of the First Continental (Pacific) Railroad that went through the Sierra Nevada mountain range made an average of 14 inches of progress a day on the Summit Tunnel at Donner Pass. They had to drill, sledge hammer, blast, haul and dig through solid granite. They did it 24 hours per day, 6 days per week for about two years to construct the 1659 feet long (third of a mile), 19 feet high and 16 feet wide tunnel. They used up to 300 pounds of black powder every day until the switch to nitroglycerin made blasting faster and easier. 

          The crews worked through snowy conditions and used lanterns or candles to light their dark shifts. 

          They dealt with rock dust, dim light and avalanches. 

          I guess I won’t complain about my job site.

          • Perspective - is a point of view.
          • Perception - is an interpretation. 

          It is the perception of our reality that governs the perspective towards our work.

          My perception - that I’ve been making pinhole progress lately, keeping me distanced from registering accomplishment - has fed my perspective on the project as a whole.  I sit down in front of my screen with a resentful eye on the timeline and an embittered TAP-TAP-TAP to my type. 

          It’s turned into a showdown: me vs. my work. Not a good perspective. 

          • How to get a different perspective? Change perception. 
          • One way to do that:  Alter your position. 

          Dad’s building a mountain with a tunnel through it for his model trains. He encouraged me to check out his work in progress this morning. I’m glad he did.

          The mountain-in-the-making sits at one end of the long train table platform. I looked at it from the two sides of the table I could walk around.  The mountain is roughed in; you need a lot of imagination and I was thinking “there’s a lot of work here to be done.”  

          Then I went IN the mountain. The position change changed everything. 

          From underneath the train table, you can stand up in the middle of all the action and the mountain-in-the-making and look out at all the trains and tracks and the town…and beyond…to imagine how cool it’s going to be for people to enjoy it when Dad’s done!  Looking from the inside-out let me see everything from an entirely different point of view. 

          I can’t stand in the middle of my movie and look out, but I can imagine the possibilities by aligning myself differently to my work with a lighter touch, a kinder eye… and some nitro! (Just kidding, no nitro, for my project or Dad’s!) - Photo of East Portal of Summit Tunnel by Alfred A. Hart. 

           

          here's what I'm doing now

          posted a little after August 21, 2016

          • hiatus over! The Home Road film work commences!

          photo and quick ponder theme of the week: unlike a magnet

          “It’s hard to write these days"...

          is how the opening sentence came out in last week’s belated blog entry I’m writing this week.

          But that’s not true. 

          It’s not hard to write these days; but it is hard to write “nice”.

          My 21-month-old niece was visiting last night, and after we had spent some time in the spaces where my Mom and her Grammy used to live, we went out to my studio. We were moving the magnets around on my pint-sized fridge, when she said “Lulu sad."

          I said, “I’m sad too. I miss Grammy.” 

          And she said, “I miss Grammy too.” 

          For a pint-sized person, she’s got a mega memory and a wondrously in-tune intuition. 

          We were quiet for a while, shuffling magnets around and feeling sad. 

          I gave a talk last week at a museum. I didn’t realize how much of my sad I’d infused into my prepared comments until the words had been out of my mouth for a few hours. The talk was about The Home Road film, the trek and migration. I think (now…with some reflection) that I’ve gravitated towards the pain in the project’s stories, connecting with the struggles, suffering, disease, dying, death, fatalism and fear.  Pain attracts pain. 

          Even past pain. (Especially past pain.)

          Can’t say I gave a very uplifting talk the other day. 

          Can say I have rounded a very tough bend and am on the home stretch to sharing a very uplifting film.   

          Wings of an Eagle. (And a butterfly).

          here's what I'm doing now

          posted a little after August 14, 2016

          • film work on hiatus

          photo and quick ponder theme of the week: conversations overheard on the trek

          Overheard then caught by the eye and lens of  Sue Lessard at Lily Brook Farm in Hollis, ME and near the Willey Historic House along Route 302 in the White Mountains of NH during Ray Shevenell's ancestral trek in June, 2015. 

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted August 7, 2016

            • film work on hiatus for a few days

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: forest avenue pizza hut birthday ring

            When I turned 16, I received a ring with a fire opal and a story. 

            The ring was originally my great-grandmother Helena Shevenell’s. It had gone missing before she died. Years later, it was found in one of her gardens outside her home in Dover, NH. 

            There were no daughters to pass it on to (Helena had raised four boys), so the first Shevenell granddaughter received it. Her name was Maria Helena, but everyone knew her as Frances. She was my Dad’s cousin and a school teacher. I barely remember her, because she died when I was very young. Cancer. She was 30. 

            I’m the first Shevenell great-granddaughter in this tree line.  

            I remember my Dad taking me to lunch across the street from his office on Forest Avenue at the Pizza Hut next to Oakhurst Dairy. I remember the booth we sat in when he gave me the ring and the story. I remember thinking how magical the stone looked and how humbled I felt to wear it.

            It’s been on my finger for over 30 years now. 

            On the way home from an O’Leary family reunion Saturday, (my Dad’s Mom’s side of the family…165 attendees strong this year!), Dad and I stopped at St. Charles Cemetery in Dover to see Kathleen Gertrude O’Leary Shevenell.  She’s buried there with my grandfather, Oscar, my Dad’s little sister, Libby, and several Shevenells, including Helena and Frances.  

            It hit me that I carry Helena and Frances with that magical fire opal that goes everywhere I do on the finger that is typing many of the letters you’re reading right now. 

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted July 31, 2016

            • working on film’s pacing
            • doing preliminary pre-work for hand-off to composer
            • editing beginning of film’s “background story” to get to the start of the trek in Canada faster
            • adjusting Day 1 trek photos used in film to balance beauty and emotion of the day’s walk

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Energy

            I walked into Awe and Wonderment this weekend. 

            Irene Wanjiru, the Kenyan sculptor I had the pleasure of filming last September, is back.  I visited her along the Sheepscott River in Midcoast Maine over July 30-31, about three weeks into her summer stay. 

            Her work space is a forest-to-sea-river setting where there’s a clearing for the “garden” she builds.  Mother Nature is co-creator and matchmaker. It’s hard to say whether materials like driftwood and sea glass find Irene or if Irene finds them. Once united, it’s a fusion of imagination, attention and movement as animals, faces and stories are released, and new life and beauty created. 

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted July 24, 2016

            • recycling last week's first three action items
            • reallocating more time to The Home Road now that new project has been launched

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Malibu Memory 

            note: In honor of my Mom's birthday, I'm cross-posting a blog I wrote for a new website this week..

            “Memory is not just a then, recalled in a now, the past is never just the past, memory is a pulse passing through all created life, a waveform, a then continually becoming other thens, all the while creating a continual but almost untouchable now.” - David Whyte

            I use images to help me remember experiences, feelings and new ideas.

            When a good idea shows up, I take a picture of the setting I’m in and that helps my memory, whether I have time to write a few words down or not.  It’s easier for me to remember an idea when I have context; where I was and what I was doing. Also, the action of taking a photo gives motion to the moment; in turn making the idea and the space it’s inhabiting more active. 

            Some idea-moment-spaces are less scenic than others. I have a picture of the inside of my refrigerator, because that’s where I was standing, staring blankly at butter last winter, when I had an editing idea for my film. 

            I’ve walked by the painting pictured below thousands of times. Today I stopped, stared for a long while and took its picture. 

            It’s how I’ll remember today: my mom’s birthday; my first July 24th without her; and the day Malibu Maine was born. 

            Mom and Dad bought this William Ehrig Maine seascape when they were newlyweds. 

            My Mom’s beauty is represented by the moonlight and her strength by the elemental force of nature.

            “Malibu” is of Native American origin from the Chumash word “Humanliwo: where the surf sounds loudly” (reference)

            The sound, movement and power of breaking waves remind me of Malibu.

            My range of emotions today are rolling like the sea into a moonlit Maine night.

            Happy Birthday Mom. Happy Birthday Malibu.

             

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted July 17, 2016

            • working on/editing the last three days of the ancestral trek
            • trying to schedule the filming of the final scene of The Home Road (need calendars of two people and weather conditions to line up!)
            • adding space to certain scenes to allow for music to lead
            • allocating precious time between the film and new (related) project launch

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Home Ice-In

            When my brother and I were little, we would trudge down to Great Pond through the snow, towing a sled piled with skates.  

            The winter transformed Great Pond into a sheet of frozen fun where we’d run, skate and slide; curiosity and imagination whipping across the ice faster than our blades.  Exploring its huge perimeter from the pond-side vs the land-side made us insiders. Great Pond wasn’t so great for swimming, and in the summertime we’d bypass it for the beach down the street. But in the winter, it was like we were part of the pond; a heady position for a couple of runny-nosed adventurers in snow suits.

            In case we forgot our temporary visitor status, the pond had a way of reminding us of our small selves in its vast middle. I remember skating-skating-skating and then suddenly - whoa! - noticing myself - in the middle of Great Pond. (Sort of like you’d notice yourself in the middle of watching a great movie at a theater after you’d forgotten yourself for a while, but scarier.)  Like…I am so far away from the edge of any land right now. 

            Add to that the rumors of sunken cars that lay on the bottom of Great Pond…

            (yikes!)

            Growing up on ice taught me a lot.

            • Skating outdoors in Maine is freedom, but it comes with the responsibility of paying attention. 
            • Seasonal stamina builds character. 
            • Being on ice makes you vulnerable; which makes the sheer joy of it all the better. 
            • Scarcity coaches appreciation; good ice is precious; good ice on a good day is a beautiful winter gift. 

            When I had to come up with a name for my company, it was early winter -  the kind of early winter that doesn’t leave you guessing whether winter has arrived. The kind of winter I prefer, not only because ice is in earlier, but because there’s a rhythm to Maine winters I miss when we only half-hunker, hardly hunker and worst of all, fake-hunker around the holidays for nostalgic affect.  I like a good winter. 

            Home Ice Productions was born right down a snowy winter road from Great Pond. 

            I decided it felt right to release its first feature film into the same conditions. 

            The Home Road arrives this winter. 

            • this week's photos from the collection of slides I've been mining from the 1960's-1970's when winters were WINTERS!

             

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted July 10, 2016

            • tasking Dad to find key photos from his work archives to add to film
            • editing out some (audio) narrative because images say more, better
            • working in sleep-deprived haze more days than I’d like
            • trying out a theory on why I can’t fall asleep easily lately

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Missing the Obvious (again)

            If I had a nickel for all the recent “A-HA!” creative break-throughs that are followed by the revelation: gee, that was hidden in plain sight…

            I’d have about 40 cents.  

            That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. 

            I hope that “hidden in plain sight” is the category for the answer to a late spring-early summer sleep issue I’m experiencing.

            The issue: falling asleep. It’s taking hours. 

            The background: this is unusual. 

            The questions: 

            • am I awake because there’s something specific on my mind keeping me up? No. 
            • am I awake because I’m thinking about lots of things? Kind of, but I’m pretty good at managing that.
            • am I awake because I’ve gotten “lazy” about creating the right environment in which to fall asleep (special emphasis on being screen-free)?  Mmmmmmmmaybe a little sloppy here and there but overall, no. Don’t think that’s the issue. 
            • am I anxious about the future? am I dwelling on the past?  Probably a little of both, yes, but within acceptable ranges. Don’t think that’s it. 

            The obvious:

            • Am I awake because I’m not getting enough exercise?  
            • Could it be that simple? 
            • Never mind the mind for a minute; mind the body. Body underneath brain not tired?

            Now that I’m “waking up” to the possibility, I see a several-months-long downward trend in exercise: a semi-sedentary winter rolled into the spring of caregiving (see Mom posts below) which rolled into the summer of work catch-up.

            Eureka!  Easy fix. Off to test the theory and restore some mind-body sleep harmony.

            And hopefully add another nickel to the A-HA! jar.

            NOTE: this week's photos from an era of good, easy, sleeping and rest; a dreamy slide collection recently digitized.

             

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted July 3, 2016

            • finding it interesting how hard it is to remember the cold in summer, and therefore more challenging  to work with winter film clips
            • enjoying the occasional "windfall" that comes from a random editing move or a radical editing move
            • grinding it out some days; flowing others. 

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: borderlands and boundaries

            I started this week's blog in short-form-earnest but raced out of the gates so fast I didn't notice how far I'd gone until the word "Brexit" startled me out of my typing spree. Yep, in about ten minutes flat, I made it all the way from the American-Canadian borderlands of my great-great-great grandfather's mid-19th century journeys to the recent vote by the Brits to leave the European Union. Not exactly a quick ponder.  (Although I tore through a lot of ground pretty quickly on the 'ol keyboard.)  

            I took a break from typing to organize my thoughts on a walk. For about a minute, I thought I had them contained. Lo and behold, there were no boundaries. The thoughts were running free.  When I looked up from my walk, I noticed trees on opposite sides of the street leaning in for a conversation, talking right over their "boundary";  their roots probably running underneath it.  (photo of the conversation below)

            In my research for The Home Road, I read about the porous border between the two nations where earners crossed back and forth for logging, lumbering, harvesting, hunting, trading, smuggling, news and story sharing.

            Great conversations are held on borderlands where they are often daunting, daring, difficult.  It's a timeless quality from the frontier. 

            Photo note: The images bookending today's talking trees are from a mid-1960's trip my parents made called "1000 Miles in Maine".  The Milltown Crossing is one of the older border crossings between Calais, Maine and Saint Stephen, New Brunswick. I had over 200 slides from this era digitized recently and am enjoying the look back in time (and borders!) immensely. 

             

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted June 26 (ish), 2016

            • building a brand new movie trailer
            • adding onto a section about the history of the borderlands
            • giving more time to the American Industrial Revolution

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Oops. A Daisy!

            The other day my nearly 19-month-old niece Lucia was visiting, and we ran around the yard delighting in almost anything we came upon: sticks, grass, bird seed, rocks, definitely the “flowahs” and most especially, the “oopsie-daisies.”

            I love the way she says oopsie-daisy

            Playing around with those words reminded me of my great aunt’s voice saying “upsa-daisy” with a warm lilt, presumably after a nap, although I can’t really remember the scene, just the sound of her encouragement. 

            I can hear thinking or whispering “whoops-a-daisy” to myself - a lot - upon discovery of little mistakes or errors; a kinder, more considerate response than others that roam around the self-speak storehouse in my head.

            This week has been filled with abnormal upsa-daisies and hardcore whoops-a-daisies in my studio cave where I’m working on the film without windows or regular hours. Waking up in the middle of the night is not uncommon lately, so I’m experimenting with sleeping in the studio, so I can work through my insomnia. 

            That idea may turn out to be an "oops" but in the meantime, the daisies dazzle!

             

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted June 12, 2016

            • editing
            • editing
            • editing

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: lighten up, and go easy

            Mid-way through last week, I was trying to remember what I'd written in the blog last Sunday. I couldn't remember, and that's not normal. When I took a look, I was surprised to see what I'd written. More death, sickness, and pain. I guess I am still in the fog that comes with losing someone very close. I also noticed that I hadn't even finished last week's post. That's not normal either. For the record, I may change last week's post. For tonight, though, I"m going to keep things nice and easy. One year ago on this date, Dad finished his nearly 200-mile ancestral trek, arriving in Biddeford, Maine at about 2 pm.  Here's a picture of "Pepere" and his grand-daughter, Lucia (just over six months at the time) at the finish in Shevenell Park. Earlier in the day, Dad happened upon a yard sale in neighboring Dayton, Maine. It was one of my favorite moments of the whole trek. Thoughts of this day one year ago kept me company on my own walk tonight around 6 pm. Here are three pics!

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted June 5, 2016

            • selecting genealogical artifacts to weave into the film
            • wrestling with how to show pain/reveal pain/handle pain
            • reflecting on a year ago this week when we were on the ancestral trek pushing through adversity then miles

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: pain and survival 

            If you had to choose to be in agonizing pain or watch someone you love be in agonizing pain…

            Ouch. No way around the pain. One of my ancestors survived a decade of disease and death in his immediate family in the 1910’s. One by one, each of his siblings and parents died from pulmonary tuberculosis or related illnesses. He was the oldest child in the family; his first son lived one day. 

            He knew pain. 

            It doesn’t sound like he talked about it, but in a ledger he kept, the pain is documented by entries for medicines, flowers and cemetery lots. 

            He and his wife, my great-grandparents, had four more sons. It was a pivotal time and period of survival in our branch of Shevenell family history and he was a pivotal person in our cultural, inspirational and emotional inheritance. 

            Photograph: August, 1923 - Henry & Lena with Raymond (oldest), Oscar (in front of Henry), Roland and Alfred. Dover, NH. 

             

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted May 26, 2016

            • reflecting on the last 10 days
            • remembering my mom
            • feeling thankful for the outpouring of love and support
            • preparing to return to film work full-time after Memorial Day weekend

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted May 15, 2016

            • editing a little
            • planning a lot
            • listening as hard as I can

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Stuck /Motion

            Stuck. Not a fine place to be. The feeling accompanies me to sleep lately where it manifests into off-putting dream sequences broken up by the sounds in the house. In one sequence, I found myself eating a leftover piece of baked salmon out of one hand and a fluffernutter peanut butter sandwich from the other. 

            Only that sequence was an awake sequence...at zombie o’clock. Last Thursday.

            Care-giving is hard. 

            Watching a person you love discontinue interacting with the things that make her happy is harder.  

            Care-giving is not routine. It feels like one long day. 

            I’m reminded of time passing “normally” when I pause to post here once a week.

            The irony is not lost on me - even in the thick of the one-long-day forest - that while this site is about journeys on my Dad’s side of the family, the focus of this blog has diverted to follow my Mom on hers.

            My Mom is on a home road.  

            The love, support and strength of family, friends and VNA Home Health Hospice give motion to the sensation of being stuck. 

            Baked salmon and peanut butter fluff sandwiches go pretty well. 

            (I know my Mom would prefer me to end this post with a smile. Look at her big one in the photo below. Today - May 15, 2016, is Mom and Dad’s 51st anniversary.)

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted between May 1 and May 8, 2016 (Mother's Day)

            • merging two weeks of blogs
            • helping my Dad care for my very sick Mom
            • intending to work on the film a couple of hours a day - TBD

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Diane O'Donnell Shevenell

            Independent little girl from Portland, Maine; college intern to Maine Congressman Stanley R. Tupper in Washington D.C.; beautiful bride on May 15, 1965. I love you Mom.

            here's what I'm doing now

            posted April 24, 2016

            • conducting subject matter expert interview on franco-american themes and french-canadian history
            • otherwise on hiatus due to family medical circumstance and requesting positive thoughts and prayers for my mom

            photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Purple Rain Waiting Room

            This has been a challenging week on the homefront as my Mom is very sick. There's a lot of uncertainty. This "space" we are inhabiting feels like a waiting room - and we're stuck in it.  I dreamt of being in a crawl space, unable to look through an open hatch just inches away from my face.  Virtuoso musician, producer, songwriter and performer Prince died this week adding a chorus of Purple Rain to the waiting room space. 

            I only

            want to

            see you

            laughing

            in the

            purple rain

            Purple rain...Purple rain...

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted April 17, 2016

              • working on visual aspects of hinge points in film so that they work right (story) and move right (emotion)
              • trying to be thoughtful and disciplined with storytelling tools (i.e. not self-indulgent, cute or fancy)
              • trying to be disciplined about time management (the forever battle)
              • filling in some Canadian history and Franco-American themes

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Sense of Smell & Time Travel

              My Mom and I got on the subject of dissecting frogs in science class, and without thinking, both of our sunny Sunday morning noses squinched at the same time. It’s been decades since formaldehyde laced our sniffers, but man, those memories are pungent!! 

              Smell, memory and emotion are tightly linked. Mom’s memory of her late-1950’s frog day at Deering High School was rich in detail and feeling.  

              It got me thinking about the trek…so I interrupted my Dad’s sunny Sunday morning and asked him, “what smells do you remember from the trek?” 

              He looked down at his feet to think for a couple of seconds, then looked up and said “manure.”

              “Cow manure.”

              “The fresh air in Canada.”

              “The first time I smelled flowers. Just after Lancaster. It was the sunny day when we met Josh.”

              “And then more flowers walking through North Conway.”

              Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. 

              Just like that, the smells of the trek, fresh in his mind.

              Dad and I shared a common journey last year, but our trek experiences were wondrously different (if you’ve read this blog you have a sense for that, and the film will play it out).

              The only thing that had come to my mind was the smell of rain.  

              I love that this brand new reflection on the trek came out today, and it’s particularly special that it was born from a conversation with my Mom. Bottom row of photos by John Scully as he trekked and sniffed with Dad.  

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted April 10, 2016

              • refining the film’s logline (i.e. short one-two line description)
              • experimenting with different ways to express a core theme that courses throughout the film, but becomes more obvious after the half-way mark
              • writing questions/topics to explore for another upcoming interview
              • waiting for Spring to re-establish itself in Maine so I can layer less on my head-clearing walks

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Postcards To Helena

              Imagine receiving over 100 postcards from the year 1905…in the year 2016. In essence, that’s what happened last week when a long forgotten box in my parents’ basement yielded an old book of postcards my great-grandmother Helena had collected from 1904-1907.  

              Helena (Lena) Theoret married Henry Israel Shevenell on October 30, 1905 in Salmon Falls (Rollinsford) NH. Many of the postcards pre-date the wedding and come from friends and family traveling, schooling or working throughout New England.   Some were sent to her by my great-grandfather from different Northeastern states as he traveled for work as an engineer on the Boston & Maine Railroad.  Some are written in French; others in English. I find it so interesting that often the cards are sent with no sentiments whatsoever…just the image on the card and a name…and sometimes no name at all!  Just a card, addressed to my great-grandmother. 

              It feels surreal. I hold in my hand a postcard that my great-grandfather picked up in Buffalo, NY where he’d driven a train, had some down time and thought of home. He wrote a note on it (“Had a good run last night - Henry”) and sent it to my great-grandmother on January, 21st, 1907.  It’s hard to say whether Henry or the postcard made it home to her first, but it’s easy to see that she held this card in her hand; saved it in a book; and kept the book her whole life. I assume when she died in 1944, the book was passed along to someone who passed it along to someone who carefully stored it in a box that would go untouched for decades….until it was time for the postcards to be delivered again. 

              Talk about a special delivery: history, heart, place and home. Postcards From Helena.

               

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted April 3, 2016

              • looking for powerful regional winter photos from the late 1800’s
              • revising questions and subjects to discuss in an upcoming “SME” (subject matter expert) interview
              • reading, watching, devouring inspiration (from the great works of others)

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Flashback-The Home Road

              The change in the weather and Dad’s walking attire reminded me of the first day of last year’s trek from Compton, Quebec to Biddeford, Maine. Dad faced unseasonably cold temperatures from under his LL Bean gear this morning on a 4 mile walk close to home and last year on a 38 km (23+ mile) mission to close in on the Canadian-US border.

              Last year, it was raining cats and dogs. This morning, the wind flew my phone from my hands. On both occasions I was grinning ear to ear; running with the wild weather and after my undaunted Dad.

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted March 27, 2016

              • Making signs with editing reminders to post around my desk
              • Working on design ideas for a movie poster
              • Reviewing photos Dad took on the trek
              • Making notes for guest narrator
              • Writing

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Easter 2016

              Keeping it simple this week: love bunnies; funny little love bunny girl; funny kitchen antics (i.e. me in an apron producing Easter dinner); fun colors and baby sound bytes; lots of laughs, love and leftovers. A very nice Easter. 

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted March 20, 2016

              • continuing audio work from last week
              • mining an inventory of audio from pre-trek scouting trips for good sound bytes
              • weighing storytelling options for a particular film segment: narration, images, quote, interview, music or combination
              • writing
              • editing
              • fussing

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Missing Cow in a Waterboro

              During the trek of 2015, Dad took photos and videos when the scenery moved him enough to stop moving for a moment to aim and shoot.  I enjoyed looking through his daily collections as often times he’d see things on foot that I hadn’t seen on my passes-by in the car. Occasionally we discovered that the same thing had caught our eyes; including two of the three cow series below. (Trek note: Dad and I rarely experienced his moving landscape together as I was usually ahead of him at a checkpoint or occasionally behind him having a fit with uncooperative camera gear.)

              I had a good chuckle when I noticed that both of us had seen the missing cow sign in one of the Waterboros (of Maine) and had stopped to take a picture. (Phone number on sign obscured to protect the privacy of the missing.)

              As I sat across the street after taking mine, I thought to myself….you know, if a cow was to go missing somewhere, I could see how it might happen in a Waterboro…because there’s four of them - that I counted, anyway:  Waterboro, North Waterboro, East Waterboro and South Waterboro. I had no idea there were so many Waterboros.

              While Dad can confirm which Waterboros he trekked through that day, he can't confirm a cow sighting.  Nor can I. Eleven days earlier, on Trek Day 1, it was a different story. The cows in Compton, Quebec weren't very interested when I rolled by, but when they sighted Dad walking by, they got right up and lined the street!  Inanimate cow photos from trek route along Route 302 in North Conway by John Scully.

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted March 13, 2016

              • making list of archive photo needs categorized by subject and time period
              • adding audio files from trek to movie timeline
              • synching audio files to video in some cases
              • editing railroads, rivers and reverence section of trek footage

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Mountains out of Molehills 

              The word “scale” has many definitions. I am pondering this one: relative size or extent of something.

              Once in a while, there I am... in the middle of a mountain range…of my mind’s own making. I don’t always notice where I am right away, because I’m too busy over-reacting; or not reacting at all;  paralyzed by my perception. 

              It’s a tweak inside - a reaction to some personal or professional hurdle - that develops into a tempest. The tempest changes the climate in the brain, clouds perspective, and sucks up energy and time. Upon review, it often has a surreal quality to it. But in the moment, that hurdle feels real challenging. 

              Tempest in a teapot: A great commotion over an unimportant matter. (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

              Being able to evaluate scale (relative size or extent of something) is easier in hindsight, but with preparation, practice, experience and perspective, being able to assess and deal with many kinds of hurdles becomes easier and more fluid.

              Using a lesson from The Home Road film, I had made a mountain out of not hearing back from someone I wanted to interview after I’d made three unsuccessful attempts over a few weeks to contact the person. I took it personally, I let it eat me up. As it turns out, I had old contact information.  Using the right contact information, I had my interview set up in less than a day. 

              Another definition for the word “scale”climb up or over

              Here’s my new trick if I sense the pre-tempest tweak building in response to a hurdle- I’ll imagine what I look like scaling a molehill vs. a mountain; in essence, scaling a mound of dirt left behind by a cute little Caddyshack-like critter. 

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted March 6, 2016

              • editing scenes at beginning of trek where the village of Compton is introduced
              • scouting out best spots in film to add a couple of funny video clips I forgot I had and rediscovered this week (non-trek; good for character development)
              • writing writing writing (narrative)
              • listening to a great podcast with Jamie Foxx (he’s a heckuva storyteller)

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Comic Relief - Release the Kraken

              What’s a Kraken? It’s a mythological Giant Squid-like sea monster whose legend is advanced in our imaginations through fictional works like Clash of the Titans, a fantasy adventure film released in 1981.  The memorable command, “Release the Kraken” was uttered by Zeus, played by Laurence Olivier. Fifteen years later, around a large conference table at a sales meeting in South Carolina, it was uttered by one of my fellow trainees, skillfully embedded in a product training presentation on a dare, and became the source of perhaps the best laugh of my life.  (Incidentally, Clash of the Titans was remade and released in 2010 starring Liam Neeson as Zeus, unleashing the beast and bringing more fame and Internet-age attention to the line.) 

              There were about 16 of us in that sales training class. It was final presentations day and our mentors would be gathered alongside to review us.  One guy in our trainee group dared any one of us to work “Release the Kraken” into our final presentation. I don’t remember what the stakes were, but about four presentations in…about half-way through a product feature/benefit pitch…with surgical comedic precision and delivery…

              Release the Kraken…

              It went right by our mentors, but for the rest of us in the room, it was a trigger….to the domino effect caused by multiple people trying to contain laughter erupting internally. It didn’t take long for that first person to lose it. It was just a snort…from a red face trying to hold it back. But it leaked….and then there was another spout…and then some wheezing sounds…and bodies around the table shaking from peels of guttural laughter…heads down, trying to avoid the eye contact that would blow everything wide open. It was contagious. Cheeks hurting. Eyes watering. It was excellent. 

              Through it all, the jedi comedy master at the podium kept himself together and rolled on with his features and benefits, deftly enjoying the landscape of laughter he had created. That made it all the more funny. 

              Incoming comedy of that ilk is rare, but having a good sense of humor makes it easier to receive subtle comedy cues and to build more natural laughs in over the course of a day. Developing that “sixth sense” has helped me through stressful times when flexing my funny bone made all the difference.  Whether it’s a good day or a tough day, humor can be a great ally, and it’s amazing how many more things hit me as “organically” funny when I’m open to its companionship!

              Here are a couple of photos from The Home Road collection that I came across this week. They’re funnier to me now than when I took them. I don’t even remember taking them. (I definitely do remember the frog.) I’m also including a photo of Dad and me using goofiness as a tool to fend off our pre-trek nerves the night before we kicked things off in Compton.

              While working on this week's theme, I came across the winners of a Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards program in 2015. Some great photos HERE. 

              here's what I'm doing now

              posted February 28, 2016

              • letting go of more things I wanted to include in the film but don’t fit or work
              • building on the premise of how important childhood stories are to us through the treatment of two (from Dad’s childhood)
              • working on animation ideas for a couple of scenes
              • (trying) to manage time and workflow to create more dedicated and efficient chunks to the film this month

              photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Shank's mare

              I had never heard of this term until it crossed my eyes in a news article about my great-great-great grandfather, traveling “Shanks’ mare” from his rural village in Lower Canada to the United States. 

              It’s an old Scottish saying used to refer to one’s own legs as a means of transport. Shank - the lower part of the leg between the knee and ankle; and mare -  a horse reference; combine to imply: I haven’t got a horse of my own for the journey, so I’ll go “Shank’s mare” - on my own two feet.  Shank’s nag and Shank’s pony are variations, most commonly seen across the pond in Scotland and Britain.

              The expression is used in Maine native John Ford’s American Western, Fort Apache (1948), starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda. If you go to the scene that starts at 2:33, you hear Henry Fonda (Colonel Thursday) use it as he talks to troops from a remote outpost after the Civil War.  LINK to Video. This clip also features Shirley Temple as Fonda’s daughter, Philadelphia. (Note: rummaging around ol’ movie clips like these is rather addictive).

              I like the way “Shanks’ Mare” or “Shank’s Mare” (I’ve seen the apostrophe in both places) gives some heft and old-school intention, if not swagger, to the act of walking.

              This post came to me the other day when I decided to amp up a winter walk into a run and see how far my shanks would go before complaining. 

              3 Miles.

              Considering I haven’t run in a few months, it was a Shank’s Mare-icle.

              FYI: This week my awesome niece Lulu will help demonstrate the concept of Shank's mare!

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted February 21, 2016 

                • making several key timing and flow adjustments to sections in the first half of film
                • continuing to chop and consolidate content in the second half of the film
                • taking notes in preparation of making new film trailer

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Thought Loops

                We had two Shetland sheep dogs when I was growing up: Bridget, the best dog ever, and Glory, Bridget’s daughter from her second litter.  Glory was a tricolor, too beautiful to part with. She grew into a beauty all right - a wild one...and a little crazy. We never knew what triggered her herding instincts, only that suddenly she’d be racing 100 mph in a loop in the backyard. She ran a thin but well-worn track around the perimeter of the yard. That groove lasted as long as Glory did.

                I was reminded of Glory herding imaginary sheep while reading about thought patterns and loops, and what triggers them to start running in our own heads. 

                Often our thoughts follow little tracks we’ve laid down as we experience our lives and relive memories. Over time they become bigger tracks in the backyard of our brains. 

                While working on the film, I’ve been particularly interested in the voice in one’s head, especially when one walks alone for an extended period of time (say 200 miles or so).

                I wonder what Israel Shevenell would have been thinking about as he made his way from his home in Lower Canada to a strange place in America on roads and paths he’d never traveled before.  

                I wonder what thoughts and thought loops my Dad may have shared with his great-great grandfather as he retraced those 200 miles, 170 years later…

                Emulating the movements of his ancestor, like Glory did with hers in the backyard.

                note: Still trying to find a photo of Glory. This is her Mom, Bridget, and my brother Peter with me on Christmas card. Other photos from the trek!

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted February 14, 2016 

                • Re-engineering the film’s one-line description (logline), and therefore…

                • ..bleep-canning my original opening scene! And…

                • ...working on a new one!

                • Related…going through the script/outline and chopping sections where things stray too far from re-engineered logline.

                • Also related…drafting 2-3 new ideas to test in light of new and improved logline.

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Inner Drive

                At about 7:30 pm on Thursday, June 4th in Bretton Woods, NH, Dad and I had our most “spirited” discussion of the Trek.  It took place in a hotel lobby, in front of two trek angels and an innocent front desk person. I actually do not have this on camera, because I was too “in the moment” as my father’s daughter to “third-party” the clash between two ticked-off first-borns. I temporarily forgot all about being a documentary filmmaker while making several impassioned and most excellent points. Edit: while trying to make several impassioned and most excellent points. Meanwhile, Dad was doing the same. 

                Four interesting things about this five minute showdown:

                1) This was the one night of the whole trek we were splurging.  So what do we do right before our nice dinner at the Mt. Washington Resort, but have a public spat for an appetizer. 

                Ok now in all seriousness….

                2) What we were debating turns out to be a very important fundamental theme of the trek and the film. 

                3) I believed in what I was saying 100%. Dad believed in what he was saying 100%. I was mad that he was not “getting me.” He was probably mad that I was not “getting him.”

                4) Guess what? I got it. Him. On Sunday February 14th, eight months and ten days later, I got it. And neither one of us were wrong. For months this discrepancy has mulled around in my noggin (not the heated discussion - that was mitigated by food and sleep and our next snit-I-mean-adventure).  I’m saving the story for the film, but suffice it to say that I suddenly understood where Dad was coming from: 

                His inner drive on The Home Road had its own focus, footprint, rhythm and sound. All his. Not mine. Father, daughter; same road, different drives. Together. 

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted February 7, 2016 

                • Working through pain themes in film. Thinking about how to demonstrate Dad's pain during trek. His feet were beat up and that became a bigger part of the story than he or I anticipated. Also trying to decide how to handle the concept of hereditary pain; it's varieties and manifestations. 

                • Paring down the first draft of the second half of the middle of the film. 

                • Considering section breaks in film and what I'd name them. 

                • (New add-on as a result of this week’s photo and quick ponder): Looking at where/how I can use food and food/meals/eating in the film in a more meaningful way (I had hit the subject in passing, but I think I can do better)

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Memorable Meals: The Hot Lunch Mile

                On Day 2 of the trek, we woke in St-Herménégilde, Quebec to temperatures hovering around freezing. I had slept 90 minutes, spending most of the night transferring all of Day 1’s media from cameras to computer to two hard drives. Dad woke up accusing me of hiding his candy bars on him. (Like I had time for that.) The first leg of the day’s trek was three and a half miles to the Canadian-U.S. border. It was about 37 degrees when Dad left…in a cold, steady rain. There was a bitter edge to that cold rain - this was JUNE 1st, after all - and it was about to be compounded by a communications issue that dwarfed the candy bar misunderstanding. By miles.

                The story of that morning, with all of its unexpected adventure, will unfold in the film. Suffice it to say, when we got to Stewartstown, NH a few hours later, the hot lunch you see below…

                …my words can’t do justice. 

                It took my tired, hungry, cold and freaked-out away. 

                When I look at this picture, it symbolizes my before and after - I remember exactly how I felt at this intersection. 

                Dad opted for spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread. I went for burger and fries. Life-giving hot lunch on Day 2 of the trek a couple of miles southeast of the Canadian/US border. 

                Dad opted for spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread. I went for burger and fries. Life-giving hot lunch on Day 2 of the trek a couple of miles southeast of the Canadian/US border. 

                As I’m writing this, it strikes me how powerful these food memories are in bringing back the context and nuances of the moments. Not just feelings…these photos trigger very specific detailed memories.

                The vast majority of our “meals” along the trek were on-the-go; for Dad that meant trail mix, Gatorade and Clif bars. I drank water and ate a lot of Twizzlers, but occasionally I snuck a comfort food item into the mix. 

                I usually don’t caption my photos but this week I am (click on each photo below for caption). Not only that, but as a result of this week’s photo and (once again “notso”) quick ponder, I’m adding a fourth to-do item to my list. 

                Finally, so that the case of the missing candy bars isn’t left hanging until the film comes out:  Dad later recanted the candy bar accusations, finding them where he had inadvertently hid them on himself, tucked in his shoe bag. I have this on camera.

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted January 31, 2016 

                • Editing: working on a theme that presents multiple times in The Home Road - Back and Forth.

                • Writing: or more like…scribbling and crossing out and trying again. A lot. I’m writing segments that will be narrated and it’s not easy to get the “voice” right with my written words

                • Reading an excellent book that compares the process of editing in film with editing in writing.

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Ode to Code

                I’m realizing how critical workflow and process is to editing a film; and to holding onto the tailcoats of my sanity. It’s difficult not to be inefficient, even when you have systems in place. A sequence or an image I discard today is often eligible for a second or third chance. Rejection is not absolute. Today’s trash could be tomorrow’s treasure. Or not.  

                Media can be labeled with tags/keywords by theme, location, person, mood, etc.  A piece of media can also be characterized by what I think and feel about it and how/where I might use it. Media must be stored methodically so that media can be retrieved methodically, otherwise say goodbye to sanity (again).

                My systems and processes are works in progress but I realize that out of this “code” I’m developing is a sort of cinematic notation that will be baked into this film…and presumably future projects. Note: this week's photos courtesy of John Scully along the trek; a page out of my Dad's sports scrapbook and an image that's been with me like a brother since I first started dreaming about this film. 

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted January 24, 2016 

                • Translating two newly discovered documents from French to English: a 7 page biography of a Shevenell family member and a long form news piece

                • Going through the first half of my homemade hybrid storyboard/script/draft of The Home Road and "lining it up" with the first half of the trek footage

                • Writing a few segments that will be narrated in the film

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Fear-hacking

                “I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”– Mark Twain

                “He who suffers before it is necessary suffers more than is necessary.”– Seneca

                I've had a mighty cold for two weeks this month. It's the first time I've been sick since a nasty summer cold moved into my lungs in 2013 and camped out for a month. I find being sick very disorienting, maybe because it triggers memories of childhood maladies, trips to the doctor and drama. 

                I had some rip-roaring ear aches as a kid, the kind that wheezed, made suction sounds and popped and exploded like errant firecrackers or full-on bombs bursting inside my head. Ouch. It was like being trapped inside a chaotic battlefield or a badly broken tube amp, waiting for relief.

                Being sick triggers fear: a little bit of "what if something's really wrong?" A lot of "what if I get really behind? what if I miss work I can't make up? what if I can't bounce back fast enough?”  Note: This is a partial list from a self-employed sickie...it's longer!

                I wondered what my 19-year-old great-great-great-grandfather might have feared when he set out from the village of Compton (Quebec) on April 1, 1845; leaving home and family behind to walk towards a place called Biddeford, nearly 200 miles away; where he hoped to find work. There would be plenty of uncertainty on his trip, and even more at his destination in a new town and new country. 

                “Bravery is always more intelligent than fear, since it is built on the foundation of what one knows about oneself: the knowledge of one’s strength and capacity, of one’s passion.” - Nicole Krauss

                Taking advice from a guy who thought about this stuff 2000 years ago is surprisingly freeing and fortifying (Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher-practitioner). Reading his thoughts, along with those of Twain and Krauss, inspires me to tune in on “the guesswork of the frightened mind” and encourages me to not indulge my fears. I will feel better. I will find a healthy work pace soon, and I might even have a new “Jedi mind trick” to whip out on myself the next time I’m flying through fearful head space.  

                Photo note: Usually I pull images from the trek or from family history research to pair with each week’s “quick ponder," but these are from September, 2014 on a break from The Home Road. I was in pre-production of the film at the time and wrestling with fears that I couldn't shake, so I tried to out-run them.  That wasn't very successful, either, but at least I got some interesting photos with my "fear lens" on.

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted January 17, 2016 

                • Translating two newly discovered documents from French to English: a 7 page biography of a Shevenell family member and a long form news piece

                • Going through the first half of my homemade hybrid storyboard/script/draft of The Home Road and "lining it up" with the first half of the trek footage

                • Seriously considering an ancient remedy: slicing onions and putting them in my socks and sleeping with them, in an effort to alleviate (beat) my 9-day-old cold. This beast has been lingering inside too long so I'm ready to try. Update: onions didn't work so well for me, but the strategy received a thumbs up from a formerly sick friend who wore onions on her feet for three nights and felt much better.

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Longfellow, Nietzsche & Thoreau

                This week’s quick ponder isn’t. (quick) Mind-moving metaphors slow me down; so much, that I’m essentially standing in the stanzas of Longfellow’s The Bridge this week. The Bridge was published in a collection released in 1845, the year Israel Shevenell first walked from Compton, Quebec to Biddeford, Maine.  The poem was written after the death of Longfellow’s first wife, Mary Potter, who died several weeks after a miscarriage. One reflection I read described “The Bridge” as a metaphor for a figurative place we go in transition of life (poemofquotes.com).  While Longfellow stands on his bridge, he looks into the water, present in love and reflection; and into the distance, also present in moving on. Two of the poem’s fifteen stanzas follow: (click HERE  to read the whole poem)

                 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: (published 1845)

                    …Yet whenever I cross the river

                          On its bridge with wooden piers, 

                          Like the odor of brine from the ocean

                         Comes the thought of other years.

                     ...And I think how many thousands

                         Of care-encumbered men,

                         Each bearing his burden of sorrow, 

                        Have crossed the bridge since then. 

                Also this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about these two quotes:

                Friedrich Nietzsche: (1873)

                No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don't ask, walk!  

                Henry David Thoreau: (1861)

                I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering…

                …some would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.  

                These themes reverberate through time and are present throughout the journey(s) of The Home Road documentary film.  Stay tuned, as they say!

                I hope you enjoy exploring them in the context of your own story/journeys.

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted January 10, 2016 

                • Going through media from Days 8-13 of the Trek and preliminarily placing video segments into the film's storyline in chronological order

                • Making notes about b-roll and secondary storylines for future editing from same media supply

                • Sorting through media from the two scouting/research trips Dad and I took to Compton, Quebec (including one visit to Ottawa) in 2014 to identify "keepers"

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Railroads, Rivers & Reverence

                For much of my father’s nearly 200-mile trek last summer, he walked alongside railroad tracks, rivers and cemeteries. 

                By day 3 of the trek, I coined it Dad’s Railroad, River and Reverence Tour in my daily journal.  Our rolling stage, especially through the 100+ miles of New Hampshire, was frequently dressed in this scenery. One, two or all three were backdrops to Dad’s motion or were the subjects of our cameras as we captured what struck us as things and moments we wanted to remember and share. 

                My “lens” on this theme shifted following day 8 of the trek on Sunday, June 7th when I shot from the ground in a cemetery looking out at Dad walking by the beautiful stones and flags along Route 302 near Attitash.  While I was certainly not unaware of it before, it hit me and moved me - profoundly in this moment - to recognize how many STORIES Dad was walking by, symbolized in stone. Some of the stones - and stories - in older cemeteries would have been there when our ancestor Israel walked by them in the mid-1840’s. 

                Being in the cemetery gave me an entirely different point of view. Like the dandelions lining so much of Dad’s path (see my blog post below from 12/25/15), I started to think of the cemeteries less as “cemeteries” and stones, but as people and stories lining his path, adding to the cast and character of the “home road”.  (Thank you, John Scully, Dad's trek-mate and guest photographer Day 7 & 8, for the photos of me along the Railroad, River & Reverence tour.)

                here's what I'm doing now:

                posted January 3, 2016 

                • Reading a fascinating thesis on the history of the Eastern Townships, the region of Lower Canada (Quebec) where Family Shevenell lived before they came to the United States

                • Continuing to organize questions for subject matter expert interviews

                • Sifting through footage from Compton/Eastern Townships and making editing decisions as well as considering pieces for the film's new trailer

                • Adding to a folder I created last week to house "blooper reel" candidates. This is already turning into a full house!

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: My Other Father Ray

                I knew my Great Uncle Raymond as Father Ray, the priest from Canada. He was in his mid-60’s by the time I was old enough to remember.  I saw him once a year when he would “come down from Canada” for his summer vacation and stop by my grandparents’ house for their annual Labor Day lobster bake.  My father was named after him.  I was kinda scared of him.  He was quiet; he wore lots of clothes; I knew he spoke French, English and "priest" and I was worried that he could read my mind. 

                I really didn't know Father Ray.  

                In researching family history for The Home Road, I have had the opportunity to wander back in time and to Ottawa Canada and look at his life. What a life he lived; 95+ years.  It's difficult to give him a proper introduction in this short form blog; he was a dedicated priest and the Founder of the School of Psychology and Education at the University of Ottawa. He worked in the capacities of Dean and Director until he was well into his 70's. He was a builder and a pioneer.

                In 1966, he joined a rather elite "club" that includes Walt Disney, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Ali, Humphrey Bogart, Sophia Loren, Ernest Hemingway, Dwight D Eisenhower, Pablo Picasso, Dizzy Gillespie, Queen Elizabeth II, Martin Luther King, three Popes, Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Einstein, John F Kennedy, Geddy Lee & Rush and many other world famous leaders when he was photographed by Yousuf Karsh. Karsh is regarded as one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century and took the iconic portrait photograph of Winston Churchill. 

                 

                 

                here's what I'm doing now

                posted December 25, 2015 

                • Working through two documents written in French about an influential Shevenell family member - mining for “sound bytes”

                • Organizing questions for subject matter expert interviews

                • Building what I hope will be a strong Middle in the feature length film

                • Feeling grateful I was diligent about organizing media from the trek in a way that would make editing more efficient.  Wishing I could say the same about other buckets and splatters of content that are strewn about devices and hard drives. 

                photo and quick ponder theme of the week: Dandelions

                I watched an episode of Cosmos recently and Neil deGrasse Tyson used dandelions as an example of how life propagates by telling its story through DNA. A seed’s DNA is a story. Dandelions take flight and can go hundreds of miles to find a safe place to land and tell their story. They’ve been doing it for 30 million years. Little “paratroopers” and seemingly very successful storytellers!

                The other day, when zipping through some of the trek photos from the middle of the journey, I was suddenly struck by the abundance of dandelions. As you can see, they had caught both my eye and Dad’s trek-mate and photographer, John Scully’s eye on two different days. But as I sift and sort through media for the film, I now notice the dandelion cheering section that lined Dad’s trail on most, if not all, of the days. Guessing Israel Shevenell would have had a similar “rooting” section at his feet on his travels….otherwise known as great-great-great grand-dandies….(ooooohhhh….so many genealogy puns and metaphors…not. enough. time.)