Monday, August 31, 2015

Drawing In The Writer

Flannery O'Connor and Pheasant, Self Portrait, 1953

Flannery O'Connor, when she wasn't writing short stories, painted canvases and created cartoons.  In fact, she crafted enough cartoons that they've been collected in a book boldly titled, Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons.
Such a clever girl.  Oh, and she had the good sense to not go out drinking with Patricia Highsmith when they were both staying at Yaddo Artist Colony.   As my grandmother used to say, she (Highsmith) was a heller.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Not A Big Gulp

A Gulp of Cormorants, The Atlantic Ocean, 2015

A group of cormorants is called a 'gulp'.  How 7-11 has failed to use this trivial tidbit in an advertising campaign for their monstrously sized fountain drinks is baffling.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Meaning Of Something Found

Beach Girls, Not A Polaroid

I discovered a site today devote to found Polaroid photographs.  They are anonymous in that the people aren't identified, and there is no context for the pictures.  Which is what makes found polaroids so engrossing:  You are tasked with writing up a caption for any image you choose.  I picked one of an old woman, and while I sipped my first cup of coffee this morning, wove a short story (250-350 words preferred) of wonder.  She and her setting looked completely unremarkable, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving.
I suppose the meaning of something found is whatever we ascribe to it, barring the things ability to simply define itself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Family of American Goldfinches

Female American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis, Pittsburgh, 2015

Seldom, or never, have I seen a family of goldfinches, but thanks to the dwarf sunflowers providing the seeds, they gathered together on one magical afternoon, became accustom to my presence, and feasted on the patio.

Fledgling, and future male given the beginnings of that signature black cap.

Male American Goldfinch

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What I'm Reading

I can't help but love author Kate Atkinson.  I came to her work late, only discovering her last year after reading "Life After Life", but I've been catching up with her oeuvre since then.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CCTV - Stills

When the RavenView (tm) closed circuit security cameras had been installed all about the Abyss Tower thirty some odd years ago, they were state-of-the-art technology, with clarity and color unmatched by any competitors in the market.  Now, of course they seemed hopelessly outdated.

The once touted pixelated images seemed too pixelated, particularly in close-up, where, at best, you felt like you were given only an impression of the person, and not the essence of that individual in the least.  All sharp edges, not a smooth line in sight.

It annoyed Barbara.  Her dissatisfaction with her job had become unflagging.  Staring at the bank of screens ten hours everyday.  Watching for - for what?  The Abyss Towers were impenetrable.  You could only get in through a single secured underground entrance.  The one time someone tried to gain entrance there without proper clearance and identification, the lobby was flooded with near freezing cold water.  The armed guards watched the action from the mezzanine, shooting the man as he bobbed about in the gushing froth.

In a nutshell, the only time Barbara ever saw another human being pass across her screens was when there was a jumper.  And, there were plenty enough of those.  Sad, dejected types, driven mad, or perhaps born mad.  Usually they they climbed the ladder to the uppermost wall and jumped immediately.  But every once in awhile, she got one who lingered.

Why?  To get up their nerve?  A lingering doubt about taking the plunge?  Barbara wondered if the day would come when she would be up there, some other brown uniformed toady watching her, waiting for her to...Leave the frame

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Have A GREAT Day!

From online entertainment pioneer, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to internet stardom, and embracing her weirdness to find her place in the world.
When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage of its growth—finding joy and unlikely friendships in the emerging digital world. Her relative isolation meant that she could pursue passions like gaming, calculus, and 1930’s detective novels without shame. Because she had no idea how “uncool” she really was.
But if it hadn’t been for her strange background—the awkwardness continued when she started college at sixteen, with Mom driving her to campus every day—she might never have had the naive confidence to forge her own path. Like when she graduated as valedictorian with a math degree and then headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting despite having zero contacts. Or when she tired of being typecast as the crazy cat-lady secretary and decided to create her own web series before people in show business understood that online video could be more than just cats chasing laser pointers.
Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now Felicia’s world is filled with creativity, video games, and a dash of feminist activism—just like her memoir.
Showcasing Felicia’s hilarious and unique voice, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should celebrate what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

Felicia Day is a professional actress who has appeared in numerous television shows including, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Supernatural and Eureka. However, Felicia is best known for her work in the web video world. She costarred in Joss Whedon’s Emmy Award–winning Internet musical, Dr. Horrible’s

Monday, August 10, 2015


Victim of Solar Thermal Energy

Unlike the mythical Phoenix, there is no rising from the ashes for these unfortunate birds.  Dubbed 'Streamers' by the power plant workers for the trail of smoke they leave in their wake, birds are literally catching fire in mid-flight while flying over massive solar thermal energy plants.  Solar thermal is NOT to be confused with solar panel.  With solar panels, the panels collect and convert the sun's rays into energy directly, while solar thermal concentrates the sun's rays and directs them to a tower that then starts the process of activating steam turbines to generate electricity.  Ignorance, especially willful ignorance as it occurs in the U.S., I think this distinction between the two should always be clarified.
Hopefully something can be done to discourage the birds from flying over the collection area of the plants, but honestly, this all sounds just like something from a dystopian future that is rushing up to meet us.
Hat tip to TYWKIWDBI for turning me on to the story!

Baby In The Buggy

Outside Wilkes-Barre, PA, Amish Country 2015

It's not real clear from this picture, and I apologize for that, but the woman in the buggy is holding a baby.  The Amish family passed by while I was pumping gas, so I didn't have time to do anything other than grab my camera and shoot - which is just typical of out-of-towners, I know.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Off The Path

Burdock, Arctium lappa, Pittsburgh, 2015

Notice the tiny hooks on the ends of the spikes?  That singular annoyance to anyone who has ever deviated from a trodden path into the brush, led to the creation of velcro.  Burdock, though, has contributed much more to the lives of humans than as a fastener.  Both edible and highly medicinal, it should be prized in any garden - and it is in mine.  Although, every once in awhile my neighbor Camille will stop by and comment on 'all of the weeds' I've got growing.  No matter how many times I explain to her that they are most decidely NOT weeds, she persists, closing the door on her ignorance so that it not be tainted.  All in all she's a pretty good neighbor, and I realize that she thinks she's being helpful when she offers to help me clean up that part of the yard (mostly she wants me to tear out everything and plant some bulbs and grass.  I hate grass, I do, and every August when the grass finally, mercifully, withers in the incessant heat of the dog days of summer, I am filled with joy), but in reality she's only being clueless, and a little bit pushy. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dwarf Helianthus

Helianthus, Pittsburgh, 2015

The beautiful symmetry, the perfect yellow, the promise of delicious seeds - all reasons why I so adore the dwarf sunflowers growing in the garden.  As a bonus, if I'm willing to share the seeds, they draw in the shy Goldfinches that typically flit around too hurriedly for me to enjoy.
'Tis the season!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

One Project After Another

Cedar Raised Garden Beds, Pittsburgh, 2015

For whatever reason, this summer has been one project after another.  On Sunday we're suppoed to have a 'day of fun' where we'd kayak and then go for a swim in the lake, but I mentioned building raised beds from cedar fence planks, and, well, that was that.  We ended up building 2 - 6'x3'x1' beds, that then each required 14 cubic feet of dirt.  THEN, to top it all off, we decided to get pine straw to line the outer edges between the beds and the fence.  At least the latter was free, since it's in abundance beneath my mother's white pine trees.
Now I'm sore all over, but really glad that too that an idea was brought to fruition.
The last project on the slate is painting the awful 1970s kitchen cabinets.  If that ends up looking like crap, then after we repave the driveway and replace the retaining wall, it'll be a kitchen reface.  Love this money pit...I think.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Woman Walks Into The Sea

Meagan Abell Photo Collection

Found images, the photographer, subjects, and dates unknown.  True wonderment for the present day viewer, as the images convey a profound despondency - why else would a woman fully clad wander into the sea?  Is it dawn or is sunset?  Never does she look at the camera, only at the water, or the retreating horizon in an infinite distance.
A photographer in Virginia, Meagan Abell, discovered a box ( a treasure trove, really) of unprocessed slides while thrift store shopping in Richmond, VA.  She has since posted the images she unearthed online in the hopes of identifying the photographer and/or the models.  You can learn more about this story here.
So very haunting.