Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tea time in London

Edible pattern
London, Ontario, March 2007 [Click to embiggen]

Weeks ago, I bought a package of crackers at the grocery store. They were on sale. Not just a few cents off, but a ridiculously low price that prompted me to silently question the sanity of the store's manager. I carefully examined the package to ensure the crackers hadn't been handmade by child-slave laborers in a Nigerian diamond mine. Everything looked kosher (and happily they were actually kosher) so I bought them and skipped happily home with my find.

My happiness was short-lived: They sat patiently in the pantry while our kids naturally defaulted to other food choices. One week went by, then another. I started to talk up the crackers, hoping against hope that they'd set aside their usual cracker choices for the new and much less expensive kind. I had scored a major bargain, and it bugged me that the crackers were emitting some sort of leprosy ray in the general direction of my children.

Finally, my wife tossed them - carefully, of course - into my lunch bag. Her logic made sense: I found 'em, so I'd also eat 'em.

When lunch came, I found myself peeling the still-pristine packaging open. For some crazy reason that I still don't fully understand, it saddened me that the story would end there, with me ingloriously devouring the inexpensive confection with little more than a passing thought to mark their journey through my life. Yes, it was incredibly stupid of me to devote any thought to a silly little package of crackers. But I couldn't let it go. I'm manic that way.

My camera just happened to be in its beaten-up bag right at my feet. I took it out, leaned the crackers against my desk lamp, straightened them carefully with the help of a notepad, and carefully positioned the camera a few precious inches away from the odd-looking scene. My colleagues observed from a distance, munching on their own lunch choices, comfortable in the knowledge that I was once again being weird with my camera.

The result is pictured above. I think the pattern, the symmetry, and the shadows all make it a keeper of a picture. It's the kind of photo that results when you throw out the usual constraints of what should or should not become a subject. But beyond the technical outcome, the image captures a seemingly insignificant vignette in the life of our children, and in my own life as their dad. Sometimes, you take a picture because you want to ensure that moment, that event, that whatever-it-is doesn't fade invisibly into the oblivion of history.

Your turn: Can a photo be a placeholder of one's life? How? And before I forget, what three words come to mind when you first see this surreal little scene??


Michael K. Althouse said...

You're just a little odd, Carmi. But it's a great shot anyway. I'll be shooting some black and white tomorrow morning - I think I'll go up to the Folsom Dam. The rest of the morming and most of the afternoon will be spent in the darkroom. I can't wait!


OldLady Of The Hills said...

Saw your comment over at Michele's Carmi, and had to come on by and take a good look! LOVE this picture. It proves that ART is everywhere, even in the look of a cravker! Did it taste good? (lol)

Three words...Crunch, cruch, and crunch!
Do check out my pics of Seetie over on my blog, my dear....He sure is a great beauty of a cat!

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, great shot. They remind me of Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, though.

Three Words: Need. Tea. Now. (I'm in a hotel room that has coffee, but no tea, and it's nearly two AM so coffee would be an unwise choice.)

Can a photo be a placeholder? Yes, it can. Any picture can be. There's a print of an esplanade in Nice that hangs over my bed, and it's totally the placeholder for the life I will someday have when I live on the beach and write fiction.

Carli N. Wendell said...

Macaroni and Cheese.

Sorry. I'm a woman on the verge.

Cool picture, though.

Did the crackers at least taste good? The best food bargains are the ones that are actually edible. I'm always excited when my fruit stand has peppers for like $.49 a pound.

Anonymous said...

The photo is just fab. I think I can relate to you since sometimes I think that way over a box of biscuits or something.

Three words from that photo are ...lines..queue...waiting

Catherine said...

I think it's a great shot. But I really want to know how the crackers tasted!

Unknown said...

You know for some reason this picture made me think of hotel carpet ???

I don't think I'll ask so please don't lol

As for my use of Office 2007 I really am a convert, the new ribbon menu system its intuitiveness all round ease of use and its integration with other systems I have to say very impressed ;) If you would like a better less concise review I could email you ;)

CG said...

Three little words?? Ok...

carmi...unusually addictive :)

Great photo and I LOVE the way you can weave a story around a pack of crackers and that they matter in your life :)

John Roberts said...

I haven't been to your blog for a few days, but when I visit, I'm amazed at how many of your shots make me say, "I would have shot that exactly the same way he did." We think alike photographically.

Jill said...

Soldiers Marching Forward

Anna said...

This is great Carmi. At first glance it reminded me of a rooftop in the Mediterranean. Can you see that also or just bargain crackers that the kids wont even eat!

Hope they were tasty! :)

Peggy said...

Once you had documented these epic crackers they were free to be eaten. How did they taste? Worth the fuss or was it an anti-climax?

Nestor Family said...

Yeah... I was wondering if they tasted alright after all the hoopla!!! Hee hee!!!

Three words:


Pat said...

Golden Palace Jaipur.
I call it art.
Michele sent me.

Anonymous said...

Love it. Sometimes the most daily of things appear beautiful.

Your blog, as always is wonderful.

Here from Micheles today,


Carolyn said...

I wouldn't have guessed they were crackers. I thought maybe a kind of brick or stone designed for siding a building, lol! 3-words?
"The Cracker House"

Were they tasty at all?

Here from Michele's :)

Beth said...

Cracker. Cracker. Cracker.

Three words.

Really, it's a neat picture. I like the comfort of the symetry. However, it's an even better story. I never considered that all the unwanted, lonely food in the pantry was emitting leprosy rays so the kids wouldn't choose it.

Now everything makes sense.


Anonymous said...

I like this photo and the story along with it. Thanks Carmi! Those crackers have just lived an extraordinary life!

photowannabe said...

Crackers any good?(3 little words)
Your blog is a refreshing boost to my day. I love the way you look at life.

Anonymous said...

I think photos can, yes. But like any other documentation, if tangible can too easily be lost somehow. But, also like writing, once it's out, it's easier to recall.

I thought of corn and a basket looking at the photo before reading. Maybe a corn basket? ;p

Here from Michele's today, Carmi.

Anonymous said...

Lovely. Nubbly nibbly symmetry.
Keep being "weird" with your camera. :) Bliss away.

Anonymous said...

They look like some cookies my father used to get for my brother & I occasionaly, I think they were ginger flavored.
A lot of pictures are bookmarks in my life. They capture the moment I was in at the time, even if I was the one behind the camera when the picture was taken, I can still remember how I felt when I snapped it.

Rainbow dreams said...

Thatched rooves come to mind... but then I'm possibly not thinking straight!

yes I think they are a placeholder - thats why we look back on them so much, bringing memories alive...

Anonymous said...

Three words:

House shingles

Seriously, don't analyze these thoughts - I'm just weird. lol

And I couldn't agree more! It's the little things in life, the stuff we take for granted or don't even give a second thought to that OUGHT to be recorded. Bravo for you!

Here via Michele!

Mrs. Falkenberg said...

The burning question is "How were the crackers?"

carmilevy said...

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts on my humble little package of crackers.

To answer your questions about taste, they were excellent. Like a good tea biscuit, they had a subtle, light taste, and their texture was just right.

I ate about half of the package at lunch, then brought the rest home. The next day, I polished 'em off with a gigantic plate of hummous. I'll be looking for more on my next trip to the grocery: never mind the I'm addicted to the things!