Improving My Writing Station

My letter writing station with new attachment holding two small magnifying glasses used for inspecting prints.

Lately I have been focusing on better organizing my dwelling so that when I am working progress is made in a more uninterrupted fashion. Since I am easily distracted by the smallest of things this has been quite the undertaking.

While working at my writing desk one evening (it had been my grandfather’s desk) I thought I had organized everything to the best of my ability. However, whenever I had to pivot or change the position of the letter writing station (I’m not sure what else to call it) these two small magnifying glasses which I use to inspect my prints kept either disappearing into the sections where the pens are stored, or falling off of the station altogether.

Due to this I found it necessary to augment the little writing station. I wish I could say that I built it myself, however I happened upon it just a week or so ago at the Goodwill store just next to the Columbus Farmers Market. I thought it looked nice and as it so happened I had just committed to writing more often, and this includes writing letter to my friends and loved ones.

Call it coincidence or call it fate or call it what you will. Either way I picked it up for what must have been $2 or less. I like everything about it. There is felt on the bottom so as not to scratch the surface of the desk. It has leather (faux leather), which I suppose adds a hint of sophistication, as well as prevents the pens and pencils from making too much noise as they are dropped into the side storage areas. And the center, slanted area is perfect for holding 4×6 and 5×7 cards and envelopes.

My only contribution to its design– the only thing that I felt would make it more useful to me was the installation of two brass picture frame hangers. I’m sure you know the type. They are the sort of inexpensive hardware that often accompanies (equally) inexpensive frames (of questionable quality). I figured that aligning two of these on top of one another could provide a suitable holster and guide to situate the magnifying glasses better.

Luckily I happened to have some small nails and the frame hanging hardware in my toolbox (which was also passed on to me and had been my grandfather’s). With a bit of focused measuring and tentative hammering– it was a bit late and I did not want to be a bother to my neighbors–I had installed the small brass hardware and voila! Not only do the small magnifying glasses have a place to rest, but I think it all looks rather good.

Could it have been better if I had matte black hardware to go along with the other metal bits (more visible in the image below)? Probably, but this clearly looks like an attachment added “after-the-fact” by the user, and I like that about it.  

Photograph showing detail of the two small picture hangers I installed to hold the magnifying glasses in place. 

I’ve Failed (thankfully), so Let’s Move on Now

I’ve failed at this whole blogging thing.  I haven’t published a post in nearly two months. I have been able to maintain my 1 Frame / Day project, and for that I am pleased.

To be honest, I’m relieved. I’ve come to understand that my hesitation to publish was from wanting each and every post to be important. I wanted each post to have some sort of commentary on life, some “greater meaning.” I understand now, or have rediscovered that meaning can be intended, assigned, and even explained by me as the author, but the real meaning- the understanding that the reader or observer comes to posses can only be determined by them.

“I know what I have given you. I know not what you have received.”
– Antonio Porchia

I wanted a serious blog (and I’ll likely still end up with one) not just an extension of my Instagram (goodness knows how much longer that will last). However, with that goal came a great deal of pressure to make sure the tone, the imagery, the subject matter was all consistent and cohesive. That goal has dissolved away with time, and I’m thankful for that.

I can move on now. I can move on to making this blog whatever it’s going to be. I can move on to thinking a bit less about what to post and the hundreds of thousands of ways it could be interpreted. I suffocated myself from creating and from sharing. I don’t want to do that anymore.

There may be a time when this blog is a place for single image posts with minimal description or commentary. There may be a time when the content is very serious, or lighthearted- silly even, who knows? I don’t know. I’m no longer trying to know and plan everything out. I’m going to just start doing.

Now I’m not a big “sharer” when it comes to my personal life. Especially not on a public, digital platform. That’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever warm up to. However, I will try to make sure that whatever I post is honest.

The human mind is a very unique thing, so be prepared. Things may get a bit strange.

Heading North (for a bit)

Tomorrow I will be leaving New Jersey and driving to Maine for a bit, and then up to New Brunswick, Canada for the remainder of March. During my stay in Maine my goal is to make photographs in Acadia National Park, a place I have not yet been to. I greatly enjoy hiking, and so I expect to spend some time on Cadillac Mountain as well as some of the other areas throughout the park. I will only have a few days to spend hiking and photographing, so I have been spending these past several days (many of which have been filled with snow) planning possible routes to hike and locations to photograph.

My blog has not been all that active with the exception of my daily updates to my ongoing project 1 Frame / Day. I hope to write a few posts from the road during my travels, however I don’t anticipate them being very long or “in-depth.”

I have some catching up to do as well. Unfortunately, the content of some future posts will already be “dated.” In the past few weeks I have documented the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade alongside the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry. This was the 4th year I have been fortunate enough to join them for their St. Patrick’s Day traditions.  I will be posting some of my favorite images from that day at some point in the near future.

Additionally, I have begun a new project. A fellow photographer, and dear friend of mine, Dave Nieves and I have decided to hike and photographically document our experience of each of the Catskill’s 35 High Peaks (mountains whose summits meet or exceed 3,500 ft in elevation)*. Our goal is to create a book which displays the spirit of the Catskill region as well as shows the different experiences of two individuals doing the same thing. Recently, we completed photographing from Mt. Peekamoose and Table Mountain. I have some digital photographs from that experience that I hope to put into a blog post.

I’ve had a difficult time packing for this trip. Clothes and hiking equipment were simple to plan and pack. That only took 30 minutes or so. Camera gear was another story. Like many photographers, I have built up a small collection of cameras. Each camera I own is fnctional and each one sees its fair share of use. They each fulfil a different purpose.

My dilemma earlier today was trying to determine which were necessary, which were exraneous and where the overlap in capabilities were. Eventually I realized the best way to determine that was to take the full kit and observe which cameras perform the most work. Since this will be a road trip I have the luxury of using my car as my “gear locker.”This trip will be about helping me see which cameras are really necessary, what camera capabilities I really need, and how much flexibility (or lack thereof) I am comfortable with.

The goal of ths trip, as with any trip, is to have fun, enjoy the experience, and broaden my perspective and appreciation for all things. However, I would also like to make pictures that will be available for sale as prints which will go towards funding my Catskills project, as well as providing a general income to sustain me and my work.

Additionally, I am always looking for inspiration for short stories. I love short stories. With every trip I take I make some form of literature. Those short stories, poems, literary vignettes may be illustrated with my photographs and turned into a book which will also be made for sale. I have not determined the cost, and therefore prices of these, yet. However, if you are interested in the idea of purchasing a print or a compilation of short bits of literature please leave a comment below, or send me an email.

As I mentioned above, I am hoping to post “from the road,” but we shall see. If you would like, feel free to follow me on Instagram where I will be sure to post small updates and quick glimpses into my trip utilizing their ” Instagram stories” function.

Till the next time,

-S. R.




*General information about the peaks and the Catskill area can be found at the Catskill 3500 Club website.