Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Red Potatoes and Poet Laureate Phillip Levine

Preston Stanley
The news of United States Poet Laureate Phillip Levine's passing was on NPR Morning Edition yesterday. I came across this poem, that happened to be about red potatoes. It also just happens to be that last week was the Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference at which the Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association display of potato varieties that are marketing in the state, around the country, and around the world. Red potatoes, yellow potatoes, white potatoes, harlequin-skinned potatoes, purple potatoes, fingerling-shaped potatoes - the diversity expressed by these potatoes is remarkable; a credit to the Colorado State University potato research program that develops these for our industry partners.

The Simple Truth1

I bought a dollar and a half’s worth of small red
took them home., boiled them in their jackets
and ate them for dinner with a little butter and
Colorado Rose

Then I walked through the dried fields
on the edge of town. In the middle of June the
hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,
and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds
were gathering for the night, the jays and
squawking back and forth, the finches still darting
into the dusty light. The woman who sold me the

was from Poland; she was someone
out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater
   and sunglasses
praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables
at the road-side stand and urging me to taste
even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,
she swore, from New Jersey. “Eat, eat," she said,
“Even if you don’t I’ll say you did.”
Purple Majesty

   Some things
you know all your life. They are so simple and
they must be said without elegance, meter and
they must be laid on the table beside the
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering
in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for
Fortress Russet

My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in
before I went away, before he began to kill
and the two of us betray our love. Can you taste
what I’m saying? It is onions and potatoes, a
of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is
La Ratte

it stays in the back of your throat like a truth
you never uttered because the time was always
it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,
made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call
in a form we have no words for, and you live in it.
A box of genetic diversity

1 Posted at the Website for poets.com.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Another Camera Trick - Minolta Auto Bellows 1 And Nikon D3100

Bellows mounted on a digital camera
In an earlier post, I explained how I was able to adapt a prism lens filter from my old Minolta SLR film camera for use on my Nikon D3100 digital camera. Along the same line - adapting old onto the new - I finally bought a an adapter ring that fits between my Nikon camera body and a Minolta Auto Bellows 1 so I can take very close-up photographs with my digital camera. The Fotodiox Pro MD-NIK works like a charm, so now I can take macro-digital-photographs what were really difficult to do with my old Minolta film camera because of needing to estimate exposure
First attempt at macro-digital-photography
times. With my Nikon set to M for manual, with daylight coming through the window, I have had no difficulty getting perfectly exposed images. My bother-in-law Marc bought the bellows set up for me on his second deployment to Asia in the 1970's during the Vietnam War. I had given him a list of "wants" to pick up for me when he was able to shop at the base exchange on the Sasebo Naval Base in Japan - things were really cheap on base back in those days before Amazon and other on-line shopping.. As I remember, I had really wanted a 300 mm Rokkor lens, but there weren't any available, so he picked up my second choice, the bellows. It was probably around 1985 that I finally bought the Minolta MD Macro 50 mm lens shown in the photograph of the set up. As it would be, it took more than 40 years to finally get everything in sync.