Welcomes

From Wikipedia Commons
From Wikipedia Commons

The welcome mat above resembles one I used to have outside my door, but this post is not about welcome mats. Rather it’s about some other ways that people make other people feel free to knock on their doors, or at least, look at them.

welcome-two

The rest of the photos in this post were all taken in my neighborhood, on a sultry summer day. welcome-four

I like this one, because it seems so inviting. I’ve always been a fan of Victorian photography, especially those pictures everybody rushed out to take because, well, they could (which I suppose is what we still do). They have a way of looking quaint, sometimes exotic, but really, they were just what was all around.

welcome-five

The emblems of everyday living.welcome-three

I especially liked the gnome, lurking in the far left corner.

welcome

And I very much admire both the topiary and the planters here.

welcome-sixBut this is my favorite. What is more welcoming than happiness? May all our days be filled with grand announcements!

One September

august-pond

It’s National Chicken Boy Day today! Never mind. You can look it up. Also National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day. Seriously? The words which are claimed to be not able to be rhymed are: orange (everybody knows that one, right?), month, silver, spirit, chimney, purple, and woman. Woman? Immediately I found myself wanting to rhyme with yeoman, but, sigh. That’s how I am. When I see those words I want to make up rhymes for them. You know: sporrage, somth, cliver, chitteny, slurple and oh, well. Yes, kidding. Sort of.

clouds-8

Monday, the day I was supposed to update this (too tired from traveling, too busy catching up) was National Toasted Marshmallow Day. Which for some reason, these clouds make me think of. You know …

clouds-7

the really burnt kind. These are late August clouds and not at all the harbingers of storm they might look like.

clouds-3Especially this one, which was what made me grab my camera.

clouds-4

I was ready to say “Saw it coming!” But it was going somewhere else.

clouds

There’s a moral in there someplace, like, “Don’t always think it’s going to rain,” but never mind. There’s always rain coming somewhere. 

And these guys like it. Happy National First Day of September.

 

On August Twenty-second

on this day onemagesa lot of terrible things happened and some good ones too, depending on your viewpoint. For example, in 1485, King Richard III of England lost the War of the Roses, perhaps for the want of a shoe. That was good news for the other side, of course. In 1567, the Duke of Alba, who, I guess, everybody would agree was a pretty terrible person, established the “Council of Blood” in order to facilitate a reign of

The Duke of Alba
The Duke of Alba

terror in the Netherlands.  August 22 was quiet again for a few years until the English claimed Australia when Captain James Cook landed there in 1770. That was a just five years before King George had to proclaim, on August 22, 1777, that the American colonies were in open rebellion. Well, claim some, lose some.

In 1762, Ann Franklin became the editor of the Mercury, a

Ann Franklin
Ann Franklin

newspaper in Newport, Rhode Island. Striking a blow for women everywhere, as it were, she was the first female editor of an American newspaper. She didn’t exactly come up through the ranks though. Rather, she inherited the job from her husband — but perhaps she had been doing it all along. Yes,  she was related to Ben Franklin.

In 1902, Theodore Roosevelt took note of technological progress and campaigned in a motor car, the first time ever. That must have been something to see and it did get photographed..

Theodore Roosevelt Campaigning 1902
Theodore Roosevelt Campaigning 1902

In 1906, the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, N. J. began manufacturing the hand-cranked Victrola with horn. The one-room school I went to as a child had one of those, probably not one of the earlier models — but you never know. I wish I had a picture of it. It was always a great honor to be the child selected to turn the crank. Meanwhile, the rest of the U.S. already had electrical phonograph machines. We were not to know that. Or maybe we did.

The U. S. annexed New Mexico  on August 22 in 1846. We have to think of that as good news. On this same day in 1910, the Japanese annexed Korea, but with less future luck.  Somebody stole the Mona Lisa in 1911, but it reappeared two years later.

Althea Gibson
Althea Gibson

What a day! In 1932 the BBC began broadcasting. On this day in 1942, Hitler invaded Leningrad. In 1950 Althea Gibson became the first black tennis player to be accepted into national competition. 1950? she said. Oh yeah. In 1972 Rhodesia was asked to withdraw from the 20th Olympic Games because of racism not steroids. Henry Kissinger, who won the Nobel peace Prize (though not on August 22 ) was named Secretary of State by Richard Nixon. The last Volkswagen Rabbit was produced in 1984. I had a used Volkswagen Rabbit from 1973  to  about 1976, a wonderful car that rusted all around me till I had to give up on it, but that was not in August. No picture either, alas.

Karen Silkwood  won her case in 1986. Howard Stern began broadcasting on CBS in 1998 and in 2004 somebody stole “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. How busy the world is! Meanwhile, some of us are still on vacation.

august-water-toys

But summer is winding down.

august-water-lillies

Hope it’s still blooming for you.

Close Study

jeans-studio-two

Every so often, Jean Sampson, painter and teacher (& poet too) sets up a still-life for her class at the McGuffey Art Center. And every so often, I get to photograph it.

jeans-studio-six

They intrigue me, these set-ups, designed to give every student in the room something to focus on. I walk around and take them from different angles.

jeans-studio-one

How I wish I could draw or paint these wonderful confections. They have a still and calm demeanor, which tells me they must be sure of their attraction.

jeans-studio-four

How could they not be? They have been designed to be loved by the eye.

jeans-setup-2

I hope yours has liked seeing them too. Here by the way, is a little snapshot of the painter herself.

jean sampson

August Dark

pen-park-twoToday is Narional Frozen Custard Day. Never mind. Frozen custard has gone out of my life. I miss it, but I don’t. There’s a brief synopsis of what maturity means. Or resignation. Oh well.

This post is about August, its resignations and its wonders — and about the fact that it’s starting to get dark earlier. Have you noticed that? Not a big dark, not the dark of winter, nor even the dark of October. Just darker, sooner.

pen-park-four

There’s still time to be outdoors, picnics to go to, friends to see in the bright light of summer. If it doesn’t rain. Having grown up in the Catskills, I was amazed when I found out the rest of the Northern Hemisphere tends to vacation in August. In the Catskills it tends to rain a lot in August. Here in Virginia, it’s wetter too, but maybe not so much.

pen-park-five

The picture above represents somebody’s fun from this past Sunday in a park near Charlottesville.  There were some wonderful trees as well.

pen-park

All in fine fettle.  A landscape rich in the dark and vibrant greens that August provides for us.

pen-park-seven

A time to enjoy, not yet to mourn. And oh yes, don’t forget your hat.

august-hat

August One is National Girlfriends Day

national gals day

Also, Narional Raspberry Day, also an attractive subject. Oh well. The girls have it. I’ll not subject any of my human friends. The lovely photo above is courtesy Google Image. and thank you. They do remind me of high school or something. Here are some other girls.

geese-adolescent

I’m not sure these are all girls. With geese, who can tell.They certainly are friends.

snowmen-at-night

Ditto these two, spotted on a cold and lonely December evening, keeping each other warm with best regards…

on-the-mall-window-2014

These girls may be headless, but they stand together (sorry)

beautiful-girl-edited-for-w

And these two were real. Not my friends, but I enjoyed seeing them.

tina-being-cute

This is an old girlfriend, looking cute — as was her wont.

caliope-at-MJ

And this friend (Calliope, I think) who graces the lobby of a hospital I’ve been to many times.Well, that’s how friendship is some times. Some people just grow on  you. Also, there’s her smile…

Finally:

national girlfriends day

Yeah. That too.

What I’m Doing Part Two

cica-circle-july-2016Lately I’ve been telling some people they should take a look at this much-neglected blog (heh, heh, you know who you are). That amounts to being a not too subtle prod to myself. If you want people to look at a blog, you’d better produce a blog.I couldn’t agree more — so what I’m doing today is making a resolution to add something here, say, every Monday. How good a promise that is, I can’t foresee, but if you enjoy what you see here, please become a subscriber. I’m tryin’…

The blog will go on being mostly photographs I have taken (well, I have all these photographs…) with the occasional notice of what happened on this day in history, and, if I get really ambitious, stories of one sort or another. Who knows that might come of this? I expect to continue this blog to be non-political, non-religious. Yes, I have religious and political viewpoints, but I expect they are pretty boring (to other people at least), so, for now at least, I’m skipping that. Of course, there’s that circa-statuegentleman at left. He seems, oops, a bit political. Never mind.

In the meantime, today, I’m celebrating another visit to Circa, my favorite place for wonderful memorabilia. These pictures were all taken on a bright and sunny day in July. I used a reckless point and shoot procedure with my nice little Canon point and shoot camera, the sun too bright to see anything on the window, so I couldn’t see what might happen. That, of course, is part of the fun.

As often happens, the motif that day was circles, lots of them, which I’m fond of for so many reasons.  Doesn’t the circle represent all we’re about? The beginning and end of time, the completeness of the womb, the beauty of logic? Oh, I could go on and on. Obviously.

Not all the circles were complete, and not all of them circa-circle-3were beautiful, exactly — although they mostly seemed so to me. circa-milk-can

circa-circle-2

 

circa-wrought-ironAnd then, after the outside shining, there’s what you see, last shot in this sequence, when you peer in the doorway. Thank you, Circa.

 

circa-hidden

Who I Am and What I’m Doing

florida-boat-2012

Who I am today — not just for today, but with any luck, for the next couple weeks — is somebody who is doing Blogging 101, a challenge for the new year. Who I am — today and for the recent past and the desirable future (isn’t a future always desirable?) is an old dog learning some  new tricks. Who I have been — for a long time — is an aspiring, but very amateur photographer. What I hope to do — for the next couple weeks, and maybe the next year — is get back in the habit of posting here, mostly photographs…

Yonkers

At top, a picture from Lake Worth in Florida. At bottom, the Amtrak Station in Yonkers, New York.

Almost Comic

on this day onemagesJune 26, in 1794, was fought the Battle of Fleurus, which today is a municipality in Belgium, which has known many bloody battles.. Fighting this particular and not insignificant battle were on one side, a coalition army representing Great Britain, Hanover, the Dutch Republic and the Hapsburg Monarchy and on the other the army of the First French Republic. The French won.Although not without great losses and disruption.

In 1794, the French Revolution was still going on, or at least some part of it. The Republic had been established and so on, but the tumbrels were still running. Heads were still falling and perfection had not yet been attained. There are some who claim this battle, which battle of Fleurus-1794-battlemapeffectively ended the Dutch Republic (for then anyway) and effectively changed many boundaries of the European landscape, also led to the deposition and death of Maximilian Robespierre on the very guillotine he had done so much to promote — but that’s another story.

The other significance of the Battle of Fleurus — and the one that instigates this particular notice of it — is that it marked the first time hot air balloons were used in warfare. Used to good effect, one might add. Not as attacking modi, but as reconnaissance apparatus. Imagine — or battle_of_fleurus onesee pictures here attached, the bloody carnage going on below while floating overhead (no anti-aircraft firepower in those days!), a gaily colored balloon full of fierce men in uniforms, equipped with field glasses and — one supposes — some sort of communicating devices. No cell phones in those days either.

Apparently the balloon served to good effect and presumably was the precursor to some partsbattle of fleurusEarly_flight_02562u_(10) of air warfare as we now know them. But you can see the limitations. How industrious we are. How we make use of all available materials. And here’s a little picture of what Fleurus looks like today. The Internet will be happy to assist you in making hotel reservations if you should want to go there.

battle of fleurus_120848_H39URJ_0

On This Day

boniface Tomb of Boniface VIII-sarcophagus-GrottoesOn this day, June 23, 1295, the current Pope, Boniface VII “entered Rome” as they say, and made it — for a time being, at least — the center of the papacy. This is perhaps an historical event of not too much current interest, except to historians and maybe some of us who were raised Catholic. Boniface and all his troubles and triumphs and troubles again (he was Pope only from 1294 to 1303, when he was perhaps murdered) represents a bloody period in the history of the Roman Catholicism as well as the history of Europe in general, so it’s not too surprising to hear that he was a boniface Porta_Pia_Pagliari_Vizzottobloody type. What is a little disconcerting is to hear the story of the sack of Palestrina, a city which had surrendered with the understanding that it would be left standing. Boniface not only saw to that the city was utterly destroyed, but also poured salt on the ruins. He appear in Dante’s Inferno inhabiting the seventh ring of hell. Not for his conduct at Palestrina, but as a simonist, one guilty of selling church relics and favors.

Meditation on a Place

swimmers-full-version

 

Several, maybe. There are so many wonderful places to be, it seems almost ungrateful to pick one, but I’m a fool for the ocean. The ocean never disappoints.

Growing up in a rural mountain area, I had never seen the ocean (except in pictures, of course) until I was well into my twenties. By then, even then, so many things that had been hyped in my childhood had turned out to be, if not, frauds, well, not as exciting as they were said to be. I’m not talking about sex or roller coasters here. Those are pretty reliable too. And I had not, nor have yet had occasion to see the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal. I’m talking about much smaller frauds here. Nonetheless, there was some fear. Suppose it was just a lot of water and so what? Among other things, I guess I mean, suppose I was not up to seeing it?

IMG_1237---Copy---Copy_editWell, you know why, don’t you? It’s all those pictures. When you’ve seen a million pictures of something it’s sometimes Maine_coasthard to really see it then. Some things — I’m being so tactful here — just look too much like their pictures. Yawn. And then there was the ocean. A definite Cortez moment (you know, silent on a peak etc.). The ocean was everything I’d hoped it would be.

I think it was the noise. One is never prepared, even by a lifetime of watching movies, for the actual noise the actual ocean makes as it throws itself, heedless. Second, of course, it’s much too big for a picture, so there you go. When you’re actually standing there looking into the face of the ocean, the first realization is that you can’t. The ocean is just too big to look at all at once. Part of it isn’t even visible, even though you can’t help knowing it’s there.

1024px-Winslow_Homer_-_Maine_CoastWhat really surprised me, what has really surprised me over a number of years, of decades, is this keeps on happening. The ocean continues to be too big to be boring, too noisy to be ignored, too beautiful. Some people maybe feel this way about standing on mountain tops. But the countryside, no matter how far the eagle’s eye can see, doesn’t move. Well, except if it does, that’s a very bad thing. The ocean threatens us and we love it. Well, I love it.

This last picture, is by Winslow Homer, and the thumbnail of the Maine Coast is from Wikimedia (many thanks). The other two are mine and were taken in Florida. But the remarks above apply to oceans everywhere.

 

Meditation on a Photograph

sepia-street

Here it is, the street where that murder took place. Recognize it? I don’t either, but something in my bones tells me this is it. It looks so innocent and pre-war. Yes, it looks (to me) like 1927. Don’t look too closely at that surrealistic automobile,, lurking in the left vanishing point, or the worse one hiding behind the fence. They can’t help being there. It’s like the innocent bystanders who didn’t manage to get themselves indoors and out of sight before the  police arrive. The sun is shining on this spot but it’s an ironic sun. This street speaks of exit. This street says, too late, too late. And it isn’t even willing to say what it’s too late for.

This is the kind of scene the crime leaves behind. That is,  not streaked with blood, but after the blood has been all tidied away. This is a street trying to assume its innocence. That picket fence alone is worth a thousand lies. That spot of sunshine, pretending, perhaps, to be a sit-in for something else.

They once lived on this street, you know. I mean, the victims. It was green then and banked with flowers. Automobiles grazed its pleasant lea. Don’t look too closely into the windows of those houses, crouching behind the fence, or staying — far left — out of the picture altogether.

The impulse is to put names to the gangsters, but only stereotypes come to mind. Jay Gatsby could have been here. He would have been proud of this neighborhood. Or ashamed.

Am I saying nostalgia is murderous? I may be. Once you get going with automatic writing, it’s hard to say what’s going to come up. This photograph is like that. It’s only a blink in time. It’s only a little place, a spot on street that doesn’t even want to say whether it’s city, suburb, or rural (stops to take a look). Look how big those trees are! Whatever this place is, it’s been here for a while. Those trees — how heavily they hang their branches — have been looking down on the multifaceted transgressions of human beings for a long, long time. And when the sun shines on this road, this street, if that is what it its, it’s because they let it. They have been laced through and through with the bothering of civilization, the telephone lines, the electric wires. And they have witnessed.

With any luck at all, they will still be here, after the murders have been forgotten. After it’s all been tidied up. But luck, that’s what we’re all hoping for, right?

[This has been a spontaneous writing exercise in an enterprise called Writing 101. No humans or animals — or trees — were harmed in the making of it.]