Tag Archives: NaBloPoMO

Sunday Quote (2012 Week 14)


“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” ~ Amelia Earhart

“Adventure is worthwhile.” ~ Aristotle

A is for Adventure.

April 1st marks the beginning of the Blogging  A to Z Challenge, which I am participating in.   While Blogging A – Z seems pretty simple, you can find out more about it here.   Each day, a different letter.  Some days, I’ll write about a particular topic beginning with the letter of the day. Other days, I may only post a photograph, but it will be in keeping with the letter of the day. And, since April is National Poetry Month, I won’t let that go by unnoticed. Expect a poem or two, appearing in an appropriate alphabetic order. After today, Sundays are excluded (but you’ll likely still find a Sunday Quote at Four Deer Oak).

Since this is the grand kickoff, of course my quotation has to fit the category. And, it seems so: adventure! But, who is credited with these two quotes?  Hint:  Both have at least one name that begins with an A.  Both are famous.  One lived in the 20th century, the other some time before that. There could be other clues on this page. (You didn’t think I would give you an easy clue did you? Heck, you could just google it.)

And how many other words beginning with ‘A’, besides “adventure”, can you think of related to this post?

A discovery

Was this the cause of a disaster?

Or was the cause something else?

Be sure to check out other bloggers participating in Blogging from A to Z. Happy April.

My favorite April Fools’ Joke: A memorandum circulated from a grand pooh-bah, on Monday, March 30th. It read in total:

“Wednesday has been cancelled”

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Fleeting


This week’s Photo Friday’s challenge is “Fleeting”.   It seems a perfect time to showcase a project I’ve been working on:  a near-daily shot taken from my front porch for the last month.    Winter is fleeing fleetingly.   Spring is here.

You’ll notice some tropical looking plants appearing, then disappearing, as the slides progress.   These “houseplants” which take over my living room each year, made an early departure for the porch.  A predicted frost brought them back into the house, but they’ve been kicked outside again.

Under the dogwood


I spent the early evening taking pictures of blooming trees and plants in my sister’s garden, then returned home to put together a slide show.   Tulips, hyacinths, violets, phlox, lilacs, dogwoods, blooming fruit trees:  all were beautiful in that gorgeous light just before dusk.

This was my favorite picture from this adventure.  I was lying on my back in the grass that was quickly becoming dew-covered, looking up through the branches of a very young dogwood.  One could find  a lot technically wrong with this picture, but I love the feel of it.

Under the dogwood: dew covered grass below graying skies.

A Crazy Wednesday Idea


Stephen MacInnes, at Painter’s Progress, has been doing weekly experiments involving art.  One of his experiments involved drawing the word “DRAW”, and then leaving it in an encyclopedia or dictionary.  I liked this idea and thought that I would play along. You can read Stephen’s minimalist directions here, and you will find links to other artists who have done this in the comments.

I have no formal art training but I’ve always been interested in art.  However, I’ve always felt that I couldn’t draw, that I had no talent to be nurtured in this area.  But, as I’ve taken up photography recently, I’ve learned to have more confidence in my creative abilities and perspectives.  Maybe I could draw, I thought.  So, once I found some paper and pencils, and a chunk of time, I thought I’d give it a try.

As I doodled on paper, trying to figure out how I wanted to draw “DRAW”, I could hear my sixth-grade art teacher telling me that I wasn’t a very good artist.   I remember as if it were yesterday, though nearly 40 years ago, having an assignment where we were suppose to “draw” what we heard while she played a piece of music.   Having already had my confidence shattered — and not really having a clue how to interpret a piece of music into a mood, much less an image — I drew what I felt that I could depict reasonably:  a sun setting over an ocean.  Her comment was succinct:  “A sunset?  That’s something pretty, but you were suppose to draw a storm.”   Why didn’t she just tell us that?

I vaguely recall another art assignment, perhaps with another teacher, that required us to draw a word, making it look like what the word represented while still being abstract.  I failed at that too.   I had been assigned the word “SAIL” and not knowing much about sailing, I drew anchors and, since this was the 70’s, I drew several Jonathan Livingston Seagulls.  Neither of these things, my teacher, informed me, had to do with SAIL.  Anchors were for the harbors, as were the birds.   And that pretty much made up my formal art training.  With that type of experience, why would I try?

I had to laugh, though, as I thought of these two art assignments from my childhood.  I could write extensively about how wrong these were, but I think that anyone who has ever had any exposure to any sort of education can see that point.  While I might have been convinced that I had no artistic talent, inept teachers never stopped me from enjoying art museums and galleries around the world.  I was determined, with this experiment, that I was going to get beyond the negative “you can’t draw” barrage of memories.

Perhaps because I wanted to do this “right”, I spent a lot of time on this, redoing it three times.  The first was easy to crumble into a ball of paper, but I realized my mistake and started again with a fresh piece of velum.  I completed the second one, but once done, I thought of ways that I could have done it better.  I simply put too much into the finished work and thought that the end result was rather cluttered, a little sloppy, and a bit pretentious in trying to drive home a “meaning”.   The third piece may still be a bit cluttered, but I feel that it is more subtle and yet still accomplish all that  I intended:  1) include the word, 2) include some sort of word play, 3) give homage to artists and the art world, 4) imply that all of us are part of that world, whether we are artists or not.

The design of the word “DRAW” was definitely influenced by some of the graffiti that I have photographed recently.  I wanted to make it look like the word was being drawn off the edge of the paper, so I slanted the “A” and “W”.  The dyslexic D was both a design consideration as well as to help underscore that “art” doesn’t have to be perfect.  Some of us get things backwards at times.

In thinking about how one “tags” graffiti,  I thought of incorporating names of artists, but I decided that there were too many to include to have different signatures or fonts.  So, I decided to write all names (mostly surnames, except where the first name needed to be included for clarity) in lower case.  In my first draft, I intentionally rotated the paper every time that I wrote another name so that the placement would be random.   As I started writing names, I looked through a book I have 501 Great Artists to help jog my memory.  I turned through many pages before I came upon the name of a woman.  Without much thought, I picked up a different color of pencil to write the female names. As I looked through the book, I decided that I would not use the name of any artist with whom I was not familiar.  But, I realized that I was mostly familiar with the men, so I included all of the women after reading their brief bios in the book.   Only 10% of the 501 artists in this book were women, with most of them predominantly being 20th/21st century artists. Because I wanted to include some photographers and a few other women artists whose work I know, I added a few that were not in this book.

Originally the artists’ names were in silver  (men) and gold (women), but I didn’t like the way that the colors looked on the paper.  They were hard to distinguish, difficult to read.   So, in my third iteration, I decided to go with the traditional blue for males, pink for females.  In retrospect, I wish I had broken with convention and used blue for females, pink for males.  But, the point was to make a visible difference and I think that this accomplishes that.  Since many of the women were associated with better known male artists, I decided in my third version to place the male names, slightly smaller, next to the women artists that they worked with or shared influence and inspiration.  (The influence, it seems was mutual, and not necessarily the better known artist mentoring or influencing the lesser known one.) Although these relationships were apparent when I added the women’s names, as I added the rest of the male artists, I used up most of the white space and the relationships are lost to the larger design.

For my word play, I played with the exhortation to DRAW SOME THING and a made up word combo of DRAW + AWESOME — “DRAWSOME”.   You can see this on each of the letters of DRAW.

Lastly, to emphasize that art is for all of us, I placed the following words prominently along the perimeter of the piece:  EVERYONE, US, YOU, ME, HIM, HER.  Although you can’t tell in the scan, EVERYONE and US are in a flourescent orange, the other words in a deep brown that contrasts well with the blues and pinks of the artists’ names.

I’ll make a trip to the library in the next few days.   I don’t think that many people use general  encyclopedias these days, so I am going to look for a work on artists to slip this in between pages.  Maybe it will even be a copy of 501 Great Artists.  I see from looking through the comments on Stephen’s blog, that Zorgor did exactly this, finding an art encyclopedia for his DRAW work.  Zorgor, I’ll be going to a different branch than you, but if the same person finds both of them, they may think that something radical is happening to our library system!

I hope that someone finds this and it makes them think.  I hope, too, that it makes them smile!  Here is a not so clear scanned image of my “DRAW” piece, which I have titled:  Drawsome:  62 women artists and some guys.

Drawsome: 62 women artists and some guys

Thanks, Stephen for this idea. I had so much fun doing this!

Wildflower of the day


Yet another wildflower I haven’t noticed in past Springs.

Bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis, also known as bloodroot or bloodwort, is named for its blood-red root. I pulled one up. There’s no mistaking this plant. The root even seemed a bit liquid, its red sap oozing as if it were bleeding. Native Americans used this as a dye and for some medicinal purposes, though it is considered toxic with a structure similar to morphine. From William Cook’s 1869 work The Physiomedical Dispensatory:

The U. S. Dispensatory says four persons lost their lives at Bellevue Hospital, New York, by drinking largely of blood root tincture in mistake for ardent spirits […].

Ardent spirits; with a structure similar to morphine? I bet it seemed “ardent”. It sure is a pretty flower, though!

According to Wikipedia (see link above. Like everything in Wiki, needs further research), the bloodroot derived toxin sanguinarine is allowed in commercially prepared toothpaste. Uh?

A Little Rain Must Fall


This week’s Photo Friday challenge is “RAIN”. “How appropriate!” I thought as I read the prompt yesterday morning during a torrential downpour. But, rain is not that easy to capture. Most of the shots that I took throughout the day were rather bland. Many didn’t even look like rain. When the rain stopped, I went outside with my camera to capture the aftereffects. Those shots, too, while perhaps a bit better in terms of exposure, didn’t seem to capture much. Many, while nice looking shots, seemed rather cliché. And, that, was the lesson of the day: sometimes the best photograph is one that suggests something, that portrays a subject or theme in a different light. When trying to document the immediate thing, the photographer ends up with the expected, capturing only that which is neither creative nor enticing to the viewer.

I thought about how the rain makes me feel. When I was a child, I loved to look out the window during downpours to observe the raindrops dancing on the street. If there was a slight wind, the drops would appear to skate along the asphalt, looking like jacks spinning around. Or, they looked like ballerinas, the sprays of water as they hit the ground their tutus fluttering during a pirouette.

A conversation overheard years ago, one adult to another: You mean you think the rain has a smell too? Rain on the grass; rain on window screens; rain on dirt; rain on the highway: it isn’t just one smell. The smell just before the rain begins, when the birds start chirping a different, more frantic song. The rain afterwards when the birds return and the flowers shake off the droplets.

During this early Spring, the rain brings a color too. The cloudy gray skies can’t mask the green of the rapidly unfurling leaves springing forth from the early buds. My immediate world seemed far more green and growing after the rains yesterday, even though it washed many petals off of the trees.

Here are some of my shots from yesterday, none of which I consider evocative; just merely adequate for expressing “Rain”.

During the rain:

Battered plants: yesterday eager to be outdoors, later wishing to be sheltered.

Viburnum bud on patio

Petals on a wet black bough

Rain drops slowly off tree trunk out my window

Rain dance on driveway

Weathering the storm

And after the rain:

Rain drops slowly from the leaves

Hellebore

Bedraggled daffodils

Narcissus bowing his head, but no reflection

Weighed down by water

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through


Straight Through to the Falls

This is my entry for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

I took this picture a few weeks ago. It is the same bridge in the photograph I used for last week’s challenge. I like how the bridge supports create a frame for the waterfall in the background. This is at a point where the creek divides briefly into several streams before coming together at the dam. So, while the bridge is over the creek, it is also provides a few to the same creek, not looking perpendicular to the bridge but intersecting the supports. To see this, you have to be facing the in a southern direction, the same direction as the creek flows, but look westward to see the fall that is on the south side of the roadway. It is a view that thousands of people crossing through the busy intersection daily would never see from their cars.

It’s about time?


For many years, Indiana did not observe Daylight Savings Time. About six years ago, the state legislature finally approved moving to DST. People still complain about it.

When I was a kid, my dad use to tell me that we didn’t observe Savings Time because the farmers claimed that it messed up the cows, throwing off their milking schedules. I didn’t understand what was so different about Hoosier cows. Nor, did I question why it was such a big deal as Indiana is not one of the large milk-producing states.

Indiana is still an agricultural state and the agricultural lobbies do hold a lot of power. In the end though, the argument in favor of DST was to help draw business to Indiana. While some people would remark about how backwards Indiana was in not observing DST, I don’t know if it actually dissuaded anybody from establishing a business here. From personal experience, I know that it was a pain in the ticktock to have to deal with people in other time zones when the rest of the country would “spring forward”. Half the year I would tell people that we were the same time as New York; the other half of the year we were the same time as Chicago. There was always some smart-ass who would want to correct someone if you sent out a memo stating a timezone. Mark something as EST, and one might complain that it was EDT. “No!” someone else would chime in, “It’s CDT”. The correct answer was always EST, but when the rest of the Eastern time zone was one hour different, you couldn’t convince some people that EST was correct.

Now that the US observes Savings time earlier in March and extends it until late October, I only really pay attention to the differences in the weeks surrounding the time changes. It was beginning to get light just before 7 am and I had been enjoying the earlier sunrises before we reset the clocks. But, since the time change, not having daylight until nearly 8 am makes the morning seem much gloomier. I know that it will only be for a few weeks, but I miss the sunlight in the morning. I don’t begrudge it, though, in the afternoons, except when the late afternoon sun hits my kitchen window, beaming light into my eyes as I’m trying to prepare dinner. That, too, will only last a few more weeks. Soon we will have more than 12 hours of daylight and I will slowly stop noticing sunrise as it will happen before the alarm clock rings.

The thing is, though, it strikes me that the question never should have been whether or not we observe Daylight Savings Time, but what time zone we should be in. When I am on the East Coast, I realize how much earlier dawn and dusk are. The same is true when I am in Chicago. Central Indiana, in my opinion, should really be in the Central Time Zone.

Yesterday, when I was photographing a friend’s garden, I took a glance at a sundial. The sundial is situated where it looks good in the landscape, so it isn’t perfectly placed for telling time. But, it is close enough. Or is it? I think it’s proof of my Central Time Zone stance. This picture was taken shortly before 3pm — Eastern Daylight Time.

It's one o'clock somewhere -- but not here!

Spring Marvel


In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous ~ Aristotle

Marvelosity

When the warm weather hits, those of us who live in colder climates suddenly think that 60 degrees is a heatwave. Over the cold, snowy months, our skins have forgotten that we felt a chill in the air in late September when the mercury dipped to 60. Usually we know that it is only for a few, carefree days and that we cannot put away our scarfs and coats and boots.

Sometimes, though, we are lulled by continuous days of warmth. Even the trees this year may end up being fooled. Typically, I see the yellows of the daffodils beginning in mid to late March. April brings the purple hyacinths, followed by the white budding trees — fruit trees that have been hybridized so that all their energy goes into a lush bloom, with nothing left for a fruit; dogwoods, ash and elders. The magnolias and red buds soon follow, creating horizons of pink, purple and white. And then, just as the magnificent rainbow of colors is ending, all shades of green pop as the leaves unfurl.

It has been so warm that this year, everything is bursting into bloom at the same time. The viburnum’s pink buds will be here before the jonquils have faded. The blue bells will add to an Easter basket look across the yards. The tulips in all their glory will be fighting for attention with the other colorful flowers that are usually here and gone by May. The tulips don’t look like they will wait that long though.

Everybody, after a winter cooped up inside — even a mild winter — can’t wait to be outside. Kids from a basketball team gathered at an ice cream shop yesterday. How odd to see them come from their game in their uniforms in the middle of March. flip-flops, short shorts, and tank tops were the uniform of the day in the parks. Nobody is going to want to go back to heavy coats now. While we can go back, even if reluctantly, what will the plants do if there is yet another freeze?

I love this time of year because of the incremental changes in nature that happen so quickly. It seems simple: brown, to buds, to colorful blooms, to green. It all happens within a few weeks for any individual plant or tree. When it gets so warm — into the 70’s and even the 80’s already this month — everything seems to happen at the same time. There is hardly time to notice how marvelously each stanza of the Spring song is played.

Just as easy to overlook is the mass of white on a tree.  What makes up that white cloud? What looks so beautiful in its simplicity is really a marvel of complexity.  Einstein said that everything should be made as simply as possible, but not simpler.  There is nothing simple about a bloom or a tree or Spring.  Take a moment.  Look.  Marvel.

Budding, Blooming, Buckeyes


The extraordinarily warm weather has continued this week, with temperatures more common to the middle of May than to the middle of March. In just two days, the ubiquitous honeysuckle, the invasive species that is part of most wild areas in my neck of the woods, has gone from small buds to unfurling leaves, adding a green tint everywhere. More wildflowers have popped out; I think I even saw a Spring Beauty, the pink carpet flower of the late April/early May forest. It has been so warm that the butterflies have crawled out of their cocoons, though I don’t know if there is enough pollen for them yet, nor if they can survive the cool nights. Even the trees are being coaxed out of hibernation, with more species budding.   The dogwoods and ornamental pears have begun blooming, adding their pretty white hues to the landscape, and the redbuds and wild plums are beginning to show their purples and pinks.

Last night, on a short, sauntering walk after dinner, I spotted an intriguing looking tree bud.   Today, I revisited the same tree to see that the buds are beginning to open. I think that this is a variety of  a Buckeye tree, and that the green tower of tight berries will open into yellow-white flowers soon.

Buckeye Bud, Just Emerging

Buckeye Bud

Beginning to open

New Growth

Red-tipped Bud, Green Leaves, Blue Sky

Opening in Saturday's Sun

Unfurling Leaves

Tower of Green Berries

Showy Flowers Next!

When I was a teenager, kids joked about the cover of the Indianapolis phone book which displayed a stylized drawing of these leaves. While some adults might have objected to the state tree of our neighboring state Ohio being on our phone books, the kids just winked and laughed, thinking that the drawing looked more like something that one might want to smoke. From the last picture above, you might see how a slight alteration in the leaf arrangement in a drawing, without any reference to a tree, could lead to such a conclusion.