Are you really seeing what there is to see?

“Two of those shirts are for you,” my wife said. She recently came home from a quick stop to our favorite megastore to by herself a couple of blouses.

I noticed the two checked shirts. “Are these mine?” They are, she said.

“They are the same color,” I said. Lisa knows I’m colorblind but is still taken aback when my weakness appears.

“No they’re not,” she said. “One is blue and the other is pink, which are the two colors you have the hardest time seeing.”

I’ve known my whole life that I am colorblind. It doesn’t really bother me. I don’t know anything else. People often ask me what being colorblind is like. They can’t imagine it. I tell them I can see colors but can’t always distinguish them. I say it’s like seeing a sign in Arabic–and you can’t read Arabic. You see the shapes of the letter but can’t understand them.

Another example is I invariable confuse red and brown M&Ms. (I would of had a hard time fulfilling Van Halen’s contractual provision of no brown M&Ms if it came down to me!)

That’s colorblindness.

This got me to thinking about how this was a metaphor for life. We all have weaknesses and limitations that constantly affect our lives. Sometimes we know about them, and sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes our family and friends know about them, and sometimes they don’t.

Is it no wonder disagreements, miscommunications and misunderstandings arise? We assume everyone “sees things” as we see them and is capable of understanding us.

But what if you can’t see pink…or blue?

Or what if your impression of a chair conjures up an overstuffed leather recliner but to someone else it’s a straight back chair?

People think and see things differently. No one is either right or wrong–unless they are violating law, ordinances or mores. They just see something differently from how you see it. Do you think that’s the secret to life?

Blue or pink checked shirts, I don’t care. I appreciate the lesson they taught me.

What have they taught you?


Son of Snowmageddon…maybe

In the interest of veracity, this isn’t a photo of the impending snow storm for the Washington, D.C., metro area. It’s Brinkley standing on a pile of snow from Snowmageddon. Three blizzards slammed this area in December 2009 and January/February 2010.

However, listening to the news it’s not hard to conjure up an image of this is what Washingtonians are expecting. The meteorologists are calling for 1-3 inches for northern Virginia. They forecast more further south in Virginia and across the Chesapeake Bay into southern Maryland.

However, just the hint of snow in this area tends to cause great consternation. People flock to the grocery stores to stock up on milk, bread and toilet paper.

People race home trying to get ahead of the traffic tsunami…only to get caught up in the commuting chaos.

Oh, the joys of living in Washington.

Not sure if the snow’s coming. I do know the sun will come up tomorrow…and there’ll probably be no snow.

A foggy morning at Mason Neck State Park

Saturday morning I went to Mason Neck State Park. It’s just down the road from me but I’d never been there. The idea to go there came from the Northern Virginia Photographic Society which had arranged a field trip there.

It’s a beautiful park off Belmont Bay on the Potomac River. Thought it would be a good place to take a few photographs. The weather wasn’t great. Mainly foggy. Good opportunity to try and see if I can make a photo rather than taking a photo.

Had hoped to see a few eagles but didn’t. That’s OK. It’s another reason to visit the park. Here’s what I came up with. In the end, I was happy with my pictures. What do you think?


Mushroom growing from the side of a decaying log. (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)


Wetlands off Bayview Trail (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)


Peeling tree bark. (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)


More tree bark. (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)


Weathered sign outside the park. Wonder how long it’s been there for the tree to grow around it? (Photo by Russell P. Petcoff)

A morning at Cranford UMC

Cemeteries are not places I normally hang out at. Old cemeteries, however, offer great opportunities to take great textured photos.

Merton Sanborn.

Merton Sanborn.

Not too far from where I live is Cranford United Methodist Church. From its website, here is a brief write up the church’s history:

Cranford Church traces its history back to the 18th century. The sacred and historic spot is the site of three churches and two school houses. The first Pohick Church was located here from 1730-1774, making it one of the earliest sites of a religious institution in Fairfax County.

I envisioned most of the photos in black and white. The moss on Merton C. Sanborn’s obelisk

I love the age and graininess of the headstones. However, the solemness of this sacred spot brought to mind the lives represented here. Who were these people? What were their lives like? Does anyone still remember them?

Tri stones_1

A trio of headstones

Dennis E Hicks_1

Dennis E. Hicks

Margaret _2

Margaret L. Dawson

Metia V Wiley_1

Ametia V. Wiley

Ann Flaskett_2

Ann Flasket

Our Washington Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, Lisa and I spent the day in Washington, D.C. The best part was spending the day together. I also used the time to take pictures of what I found interesting at the Willard Hotel and the National Gallery of Art.

Ornate ironwork on a building near the Metro Center Station. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Ornate ironwork on a building near the Metro Center Station. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Floor tile pattern from the Cafe du Parc at the Willard. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Floor tile pattern from the Cafe du Parc at the Willard. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Arches at the ornate ceiling at the Willard. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Arches at the ornate ceiling at the Willard. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Cherubs adorning a fountain at the National Gallery of Art. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Cherubs adorning a fountain at the National Gallery of Art. (© Russell P. Petcoff)

Remembering my earliest memories

It’s hard to determine what is the earliest memory I have. Too long ago; memories clump together.

It’s hard to determine the timeframe, especially when one is too young to understand time. When we are young, there is that blissful ignorance of time. Youthful memories are like newspaper scattered on the floor. There’s no context.

There are three early memories I have. I’m pretty sure the first is my earliest but the other two equally stand out as early memories.

The first is laying on my left side in a hospital or clinic. Maybe I received some type of inoculation. There’s no memory of any pain from the injection. The room is dark. I see light coming through the door. It leaves a pattern on the wall I’m facing. It’s quiet except for subdued voices coming from the hall.

The second memory has to do with a trip to a fun fair at some type of Catholic facility. At one point, I’m with my brother and other children before a hallway door frame. There a sheet covering the door. It’s probably waist high. We can’t see over. We held fishing poles and sat on the floor. The fishing lines went over the top of the sheet. Someone on the other side placed a prize on our hooks. I could hear voices. I don’t remember what I “caught.” It might have been something round, like a plastic bangle.

Later, I remember walking outside in the grass. It was a sunny day. The terraced grounds had rock walls. Maybe it was a cemetery? I don’t remember.

The third early memory took place either before or after a wedding. It might have been a reception. I’m standing in a hallway with my parents and brother. The folks are talking to another couple. There were stone arches all around me. I could see the evening darkness through the arches. Someone gave me half a stick of gum.

What’s your earliest memory?

The idea for this blog came from “Writing Down The Bones” by Natalie Goldberg.