Friday, August 29, 2014

Flashback Friday

In moving from Shawshank to Bedlam I uncovered a painting that I did some 32 years ago.  I recall doing it at work at the Mary Davis Home on 3rd shift when the kids were asleep and the only things to do were to get the occasional bathroom call and the laundry.  We'd make periodic checks on the dorms to make sure all was well and then just work to stay awake.  We experimented with several schedules back in those days and one of them was a 7-3 (AM) for 4 days, then 3-11 (PM) and then up to 11-7 (PM).  This schedule didn't last long and was quickly abandoned.  When this painting was done we all did 3rd shift work once in a while to help out when people went on vacation or were sick.  Mr. Sutor has a better memory than I so perhaps he knows one of the schedules we had in 1982.   

I was pretty much self-taught and the first few paintings were pretty rough.  This one, of our dog, Magic, was something I remember thinking came out OK.  Good enough to give to Marj for Christmas.

I suppose I wasn't interested in the hind quarters or I would have painted them.  Funny, though, I guess I should have done more of an unfinished look all the way around, then the lack of tail area wouldn't have seemed quite so abrupt.  

I also noticed after 3 decades some age spots, not only on me but on the painting, too.  Looks like it could have been because of several factors, but it was never given a protective coating of walnut oil, so perhaps it is time to do a little archival work on the old girl.   

This is a picture of Marj unwrapping the painting and she was visibly quite pleased with the gift.  I'm not sure when Magic died, and not sure I can come up with it myself, but I think she was gone by the time this picture was taken, thus adding to the tears of joy that were evident after she opened it.  This was taken by a Polaroid and why did I ever think this was a better way to take pictures?  Amazingly, however, most of my pictures have held up pretty well - Polaroid's were the ultimate in instant gratification:  extremely expensive to use they have since made way for a better (and cheaper) digital experience.

A second of time preserved over thirty years ago.  A grand lady brought to tears by a gesture. One of my early paintings and it hangs on my wall today.    There are bridges we drive over, and bridges we keep to the past. Both take us home.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cruising Around Mercer County

Another absolutely, positively comment-less post.
Well, almost comment-less.

Just pictures of various things around Mercer County on Day 2.

Coming back to Aledo from Keithsburg after some night shots.  Haven't seen blacker skies in forever.   

That fishing line is tangled from the above wire.  I suppose that will remain there for a while.  

It isn't often you see stately lions outside a modest Midwest home near New Boston.  There were these guys on either side, and more over by a lilac bush to the side.

So, is it artistry or laziness to post pics without much comment?  I don't know and I'm on vacation so I don't want to think.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oh, Dear

This series of pictures are more bust than boon.  I only had my iPhone and we all know it either does really well, or really poor.  These are closer to poor.  I tagged along with the Wombie, aka Aquaman, to do his water check in Joy and Seaton and spotted these guys along the way at various junctures during my stay above the north 30th parallel, otherwise known as Northlandia.

You would think that I, after preaching to all you, would take my camera on these trips.  The picture taking opportunities are omnipresent and here I am with an undersized, ill-focused Apple camera.  Disgraceful.  I have learned my lesson.  I swear. 

Of course,  readers in Northlandia are always aware of these guys and probably uber-vigilent when driving, but I never tire of seeing their graceful ballet when their curiosities are sated and then scamper away.  It's a Northlandia thing.  You won't find them on Tybee Island or in the mega-burbs of the Dark City-Clearwater-St. Petersburg.

Frankly, however, they seem to be everywhere, and this isn't good for drivers or bikers.  Often the twain shall meet with devastating effects for both.  I don't even know if slowing down helps much since they seem to simply dart across roads.  Used to be that you didn't see them during the day, and all of these are day shots.  We were told to be vigilant during the morning hours just after sunrise, but maybe the sheer numbers has changed all that.  Anyway, do be careful.  They are pretty from a distance  but not when they are on your lap.   

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tueday Tidbits

1.  The Japanese beetle is a scourge of the linden tree.  I'm not sure I have ever seen one of these beetles, but a quick trip to Wikipedia identified this as one:

They feed on about 200 varieties of vegetation and trees including the birch, maple and linden trees.  

My friend Pat has a couple lindens in her back yard and showed me a couple of leaves they had eaten. 

I was intrigued by the dainty way they eat.  They look to be sloppy eaters, leaving some on the veins, but it does have a certain lacy quality to it.

2.  During one of my work trips to Henderson to work on the house, buddy Tim was working on some railing and rigged up this fulcrum.  Duct tape and a little engineering know-how can work miracles.    

3.  Hmmmm.  At the Knoxville McDonald's, perhaps the less said the better on this one.  Let's just say there are at least two definitions of tea bag.  I hope there is a third otherwise this guy is skirting awful close to public obscenity. 

4.  Whitey's Ice Cream. Nothing else need be said.

5.  I have a niece named Ashley Blythe and she lives in the Kansas City area.  She is the Wombie's daughter. 

Pretty, ain't she?  Besides being gorgeous, she is also smart, funny and has that certain rogue Blythe gene thingy where she is just a step and half ahead of all the rest of us.  Kind of travels her own path and doesn't concern herself with what everyone is doing or thinking.  I like that trait in people, never having been able to myself. 

6.  One of my projects at the house:  



It was sure nice doing some work and getting involved in some improvements on the place.  

7.  Seen in a QC doctors office while in Northlandia:  

Doctor's offices are usually quite bland, tasteful and benign.  All the better to not offend the varied individuals who may spend time in them.  This  doctor's office, who is in Rock Island, seems quite political in nature and while much of it is tame like pictures of Washington, Lincoln and paintings of bald eagles, the placard of the 2nd Amendment seems overtly in-your-face, since that particular amendment is a flashpoint for polar views in the country today.

8.  With two weeks to go in regular season Fantasy Baseball the Fighting Flamingos are in 1st place.  I've got a couple of teams nipping at my heels but this is a good place to be.  My second team, the Oakview Ghosts will make the playoffs, since we are leading our division, as well.  Unfortunately, my third team, Why the Longoria Face?, doesn't look like we will make the playoffs.     

Monday, August 25, 2014

Northlandia - Something Fun To Photograph

At some point whilst standing at the Seaton ball diamond serial photographing a small slice of sky hoping for a meteor I got the idea that catching one of the Mississippi workhorses at night might be fun. So, after awhile I loaded up the truck and took the 7 mile drive to Keithsburg and didn't have long to wait for a barge heading south.  
These series of pictures document the slow churning of these barge-laden towboats along the river.  At night they depend on their lights to help their navigation and watching them swivel from bank to bank is awfully good sightseeing.  Add a camera and it becomes almost artful.    

Notice the small tow behind the front barge.  This would be the Bruce T., based out of Keithsburg and in the employ of the elevator.  It was bringing an empty barge, docked upriver,  into port, as you will see.



And while it seems to take forever for a barge to arrive, it is clearly moving well and before you know it, has passed and heading away.
First day back was fun.  Always great to mooch off Mark, aka Wombie, aka Aquaman, and Holly.  They are both funny and amiable hosts, and always seem happy to see me,  I am still convinced that houseguests have an expiration date of about 24 hours, and they put up with me long after that time has come and gone. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Flashback Friday - 2004-2014

The following pics were taken on my travels in the summer of 2004. It was a heady summer off since school days after being nudged out the door at the Mary Davis Home for early retirement.  Na├»ve fearlessness would be the most apt phrase regarding my 7000 mile summer journeys.  I wrote at the time that my bike took better care of me than I did of her.  Barely checking important factors, and assuming that it would run forever, the don't-fix-what's-not-broken theory of motorcycle maintenance,  the old Kawi did a superb job of navigating the heat, mountains and height of the West.   
These pictures are of South Dakota and the last ones are from Wounded Knee, just south of Rapid City.  

My lasting regret of these trips was a lack of pictures, and I sometimes passed up things in order to conserve fuel.  I had not yet slipped into full photo-houndness mode and sadly neglected the opportunity to travel and snap pictures with a passion that one should have when traveling and recording their life experiences.

I took no pictures, that I can find anyway, of my travels later on that year to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I thought I took some but can't find them.  Same with Boscobel, Wisconsin earlier that year that kicked off this riding frenzy. 

As I wrap up the 2004-2014 Summer of Riding series I'll say that my one wish before I find out what's behind the curtain,  is to go out West again - there is no landscape quite like it for beauty.  No traffic, no people, excellent roads and wide open spaces.  There is a downside of sorts also, I vividly recall being constantly alert to my gas gauge - run out here, and you risk having a very bad day.  I learned after all these miles that naivete is something you can grow out of, and this is a few things I discovered that summer:
1.  Riding alone is sad.  No one to share or discuss the ride or sights is something to be avoided. 
2.  Riding alone is lonely.  Using only your wits to make it a smooth trip is laying a lot on you.  Much better to have another mind in the mix to help. 
3.  I didn't have music or speakers on my bike.  If a song got into my head it would stay there for 100's of miles.  That is a form of torture.
4. I know you have a destination, but often that gets in the way of stopping more periodically to take pics or just revel in the scenery.        
5.  Travel as light as possible. 
6.  Leave the tent at home. 
7.  Take a notebook and jot down thoughts as you go along.  We sometimes forget small things that make traveling so much fun.
8.  Preparation Is Everything.
9.  Keep water and a snack on the bike.  Make more stops than necessary to stretch legs.
10.  Never pass up an opportunity to travel.
11.  Have fun.  If it's not fun it's not worth the time or money. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Northlandia - First Day

Bedlam is a lot closer to St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport so the usual early morning rush to the airport was missing this time.  In a first I walked in and saw an empty Allegiant ticket counter and not believing it could possibly be so lacking of people I asked where the ticket area for Peoria was.  The guy said right here, and in 45 seconds I had my boarding pass.  Wouldn't you know it, the security screening area was empty as well.  I wasn't unduly early as other flyers (or is it fliers?) had already gone through, it was just one of those crazy times when I was the only one around.  Won't happen again EVER!  But it was sure nice.      

 One of the pilots said there was a squall around Tallahassee but otherwise clear skies all the way up to Northlandia.  Sure enough, it wasn't too long after takeoff that the blue skies gave way to these clouds.  In seconds, they were gone and sunshine led the way.  

 While sitting in the best porch in West-Central Illinois, I spied Doug's car across the street and had to go over and check it out.  It is a 1947 Studebaker Land Cruiser.  If nothing else the name alone merits consideration for best model name ever.  It has a few scratches and a dent here and there and the interior was redone in the late seventies, and a far from original, but there is no denying the form and aesthetic beauty of this car.  It was purchased by Doug's father's and while the storage has been less than perfect, purrs like a kitten and will be on display at the Aledo Antique days car show on the 23rd of August.  Kudos to Doug for keeping it in the family and recognizing its value and importance as rolling art. 

In what will be a recurring activity in the next few days while in Northlandia, there is something up here I do not and cannot have in Florida:  a perfectly unmolested night sky.  I have enjoyed taking night sky shots and while up here want to utilize every opportunity to shoot the black sky, and also the Persieds meteor shower this month. 

The first night back I went to the old ball diamond in Seaton to see if I could manage some night shots.  This is from the old school and diamond south of town looking toward town and Herb's old grain elevator. 

My hours in the next few days would become more nocturnal to take advantage of the clear night sky.  The picture of my first meteor would open the door for more in subsequent nighttime shoots in the days ahead.