Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Water Weight

The desiccated remains of a 5 1/2 inch long (including tail) horseshoe crab weighs half an ounce.  Unfortunately I do not have an undesiccated horseshoe crab for comparison, but I am willing to go out on a limb and hypothesize that it weighs more.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Snowy Egret In A Dead Tree

Snowy Egret Perched On A Dead Tree, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE, 2014

For the last 4 + years my photography has been carried by a Pittsburgh-area gallery, an honor that I often wonder if I deserve, but then I look at other people's work and realize that we're all lost out here trying to find some kind of meaning, or purpose.  I sell a couple of dozen prints a year, not so much that I still don't have to work some horrid job out in the retail sector.  I despise retail, despise our consumer-based economy.  Sometimes I think that hate emerges in the starker aspects of my work, stripping away not only color but gradients of gray.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why God Drinks

Every once in awhile you stumble across something so perfect, so relatable, that you wonder why it hasn't always been obvious in its existence.  Such were my thoughts when I saw this book cover.  I thought, YES!  This is it!  I mean, maybe not that my mother drank because we were rotten kids, because she didn't drink at all back then (even now she only has half a glass of wine with dinner), and I didn't drink because my kids were bad (I drank because I was a lesbian in a straight marriage, oh, those dark years...).  But, there's some kernel of a universal truth in the beautiful and passed out mother who can't take care of herself, let alone her family.  Heaped in pathos and ruin, it's what we fear is the true fate of humanity, with the mother figure here really serving as God, and the whole of the population as the neglected children, the 'bad' children that make God drink.  It's soul shattering.
Then I found out the the book cover is a fake, photoshopped.  Which just adds more validity and weight to my argument.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Way Back Machine

Last weekend we visited some friends renovating a duplex in Carnegie and they showed us some newspapers they'd extracted from a door frame in the basement, shoved in there to cut down on the draft.  Ever wonder what movies were playing in Pittsburgh on Wednesday October 24, 1962?  Wonder no more!  Originally released in 1961, but not making it's western Pennsylvania debut until over a year later, this 2 1/2 star (out of 5) gem stars Pier Angeli, most famous for having once dated James Dean.  It's IMDB summary goes thusly:


The Albatross travels from England to the New World in 1675, with a number of passengers, a couple of political prisoners along with a dozen other women convicts, these to be sold into slavery on arrival. The woman activist frees the dozen of low-cast women, and they take over the ship. After a storm, the captain takes back control of his ship. Since mutiny is punishable by death in the New World, the mutineers try to reroute the course, tossing Desny and Purdom in the brig. A practical male mutineer wants to throw the women overboard to save rations, but the women free Purdom and the captain to battle the mutineers. A British warship comes to the rescue, and the captain pardons Angeli and Purdom for having saved his life. Written by Artemis-9

I realize that there are those out there who adore B-movie swashbucklers, but I am not one of them and it is doubtful that I will ever watch this 'classic'.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Pot and The Kettle Walk Into A Closet

The rainbow has nothing to do with this post other than I'm so goddamn optimistic.

     I talk on the telephone with my mother almost every morning.  If I don't call she'll either call me or call my brother's wife and have her call me to find out why I didn't call.  If I just go ahead and call mom, I at least can control when we're talking.  This morning our conversation revolved initially around her weekend trip to see her sister in beautiful and historic Latrobe, former source of Rolling Rock Beer, before it was snatched up by the evil folks over at Anheuser-Busch (now InBev) and beer production was moved to Camden, NJ.  Yes, who wants beer crafted from mountain spring water when you can get a beer made from Camden tap water?  Only whiners complain about the toxicity of their beer! 
     We no longer drink Rolling Rock Beer, having switched to the new product produced by Latrobe Brewing Company, Duquesne Beer.
     Anyway, I am really allowing this narrative to get away from me...Mom came back from her trip and was pretty exhausted, so she got into her nightie around 5pm last night, right after supper.  Not long after that her phone rang and it was the daughter of one of her friends, explaining that they'd been shopping at the mall (daughter, mom/friend, and two daughters/granddaughters = 4) and mom's friend needed to use the bathroom and could they possibly stop by and do just that, they'd be there in less than two minutes, thanks?  Mom said yes, of course, and in less than two minutes they were all standing in  her kitchen, except for Bernice (mom's friend) who was in the toilet.  I'm assuming that everything was fine between Bernice and the commode, though I didn't hear another word about any of that.  No, mom launched into a very un-Christian (she is very Christian, typically) rant about the tops Bernice purchased with her hoard of Macy's gift cards, how Bernice already has every closet in her house (widow, lives alone) stuffed with clothes she doesn't wear and has no place to wear them, and how Bernice should've given the gift cards to her daughter and granddaughters (who likely were the ones who gave her the gift cards in the first place), and finally, how Bernice needs more clothes like she needs a hole in the head, which is a little tacky because she does have a slow growing brain tumor.
     As my mother gets older (she isn't super old, mid-70s), she is less tolerant and more vocal about that intolerance.  OH!  AND every closet in her house (widow, lives alone) is stuffed full of her clothes.  Clothes that she continues to shop for endlessly.  I haven't gone clothes shopping with her in decades because I honestly lack all appreciation for the subtle differences between the shades of taupe and coffee in pantyhose.  It's infuriating, on so many levels. 
     After we hung up this morning I had that awful metallic taste of irony in my mouth and it just won't go away.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Grilled Cheese Principle

I came upon this theory one day in 2008 while visiting my mother, and father, who was still alive at that time.  But, he doesn't figure in this posit, so I don't associate him with it.  My mother, on the other hand, unwittingly is the source of it.  She asked me if I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich.  I am not overly fond of grilled cheese sandwiches, and I almost never make them for myself, but I told her that yes, I would like her to make me a grilled cheese sandwich.
It was delicious, and completely unremarkable.  Made with plain white Italian bread and individually wrapped Kraft American cheese slices, served with a pickle on the side, it was not an overly fancy gourmet dish, just a regular grilled cheese, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  That's when it occurred to me:  A grilled cheese sandwich made by somebody else tastes inherently better than one that I make for myself.  Thus was born the theory of The Grilled Cheese Principle, which is applied to any food being tastier when prepared by someone other than you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

All Of The Fuss Over The Goldfinch

Goldfinch filching seeds from a dwarf sunflower, Pittsburgh, PA, July 2014

Early this summer I bought and immediately read Donna Tartt's novel, "The Goldfinch".  At the time someone asked me what I thought of it and I said that the first third of the book is as good as anything that has ever been written, by anyone, anywhere.  I still stand by that statement.  Of course, this means that the last two-thirds of the book is something other than that, and it is.  The writing is still compelling, but since the character of Theo, from whom the reader gets the story, becomes something of a boozy drug addict, this is the lens through which we have to navigate his world.  Tartt does a brilliant job of rendering the self destructive tendencies and half lies and full out lies that junkies tell themselves and everybody else.  So what's the problem here?  My problem is solely my problem and that is that I want to be able to like Theo more than I do by the end of the book.  I felt such empathy for him at the beginning of the book, but that got taken from me as I continued reading.  I wanted so much for him to be a hero, to somehow triumph, to be magical.  But instead he was just a person, not so different from anyone else, slogging through their existence.  Life happens all around him, sometimes to him directly, other times tangentially.  Theo and his narrative do go off the rails by the end of the book, but I think that at this point that had to happen.  Everything was leading to this fevered climax, and fate would not be denied.
There are more opinions on this book than any other I've seen in a long, long time.  I would recommend it, if for no other reason so that you can either say it's brilliant!  Or like Dorothy Parker*, you chuck it across the room.
*Dorothy Parker is dead and, to the best of my knowledge, has not read or reviewed "The Goldfinch".

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sex On The Beach

Horseshoe Crabs Mating, Prime Hook Beach, DE, 2014

Horseshoe crabs are often referred to as 'living fossils', having emerged during the Paleozoic Era, 540 million years ago.  Not many creatures survive eon after eon, so there's got to be something advantageous about their method of reproduction.  The male, who is smaller than the female (common among arthropods), mounts the female and she digs a hole in the sand where she deposits several thousand eggs at a time, and then he releases his sperm over them.  While shore birds consume many of the eggs, enough survive to continue the species.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Shadow Of Ourselves

Stained Glass Window, Columbus, OH, 2014

I have been repurposing old windows as picture frames for my work.  It's been a sucessful enterprise as they all sold so far. 
Earlier this summer one of my neighbors had a somewhat large eight panel window, that wasn't too heavy to hang as 'art' on a wall, set out for the trash.  I, of course, brought that treasure home to live with me, and after cleaning it up, I've been looking at it for the last several weeks trying to figure out what to put in those eight panels.  I placed this print in it and Caty made up my mind for me.  This is it!  A series on stained glass windows that I've shot over the last 12 years or so.  It's quite striking, and I hope that it's a hit at the gallery!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Trestle Over Allegheny River

Trestle Over the Allegheny River at Natrona Heights, PA, 2014

We floated so lazily beneath the expanse that it seemed to move more than we did.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Down A Creek With A Paddle

Kayakers on a swollen Slippery Rock Creek at the covered bridge, McConnells Mill State Park, PA, August 2014

Despite the lush green foliage and colorful wetland wildflowers, this photograph makes the strongest statement in the washed out black and white tones of an infrared film effect.  It is a scenic shot in only the strictest of definitions, and is primarily meant to serve as a fleeting moment captured, one soon to pass as the kayakers paddle out of view, on a creek that is itself ever changing.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Delaware, 2014

The way that the Great Blue Heron holds position, motionless, waiting for a fish, crab, turtle, rat, etc. to swim by, is the essence of patience.  I possess no such quality, and after taking this picture resumed my hike.