Sunday, August 26, 2012

Monday morning in Massachusetts

     I am on the road again, currently at my sister's in Massachusetts.  I have driven this far from home for the semi-annual weekend reunion of the offspring of three brothers.  We meet in Maine, on the coast!  We figure it's a bit unusual to have cousins be the core of the gathering, but it works wonderfully for us. This year we had great weather, delicious lobsters, and plenty of stories.  I didn't make very many photos, but here are a few especially for those of you who have not yet had the chance to visit Maine:

early morning

 sittin' on the dock of the bay        (I don't know these women.)

amazing to see so many lobsters ready to eat!

 This sunset silhouette shows a third bay.

       I am not showing the family photos here.  I post such groups of photos on my photo sharing gallery, now  In June Apple discontinued its MobileMe galleries, which I had been using.  So far I am very satisfied with the new setup even though I was not happy to have the MobileMe discontinued.  Such are the behind-the-scenes jobs photographers have to spend time doing.

      Yesterday's temporary note on this post is now erased, but you can still check here for the post from exactly a year ago....  

      Let's fervently hope Hurricane Issac doesn't do untoward damage.  In another arena, I'd hope for not much damage as well by the Republicans at their convention.  Ann

Sunday, August 19, 2012

more about spiders, plus photos for the Z!

post #99
     After doing some research on-line I learned that the spider whose web I showed in the last post is a very common SPINED MICRATHENA which nonetheless has a weird shape. The female spins the web, in the woods.  The male later swings in to fertilize her and often does not survive the encounter.   
     The truth is there seem to be a lot more weird looking spiders than I realized.  The "web site" here shows some of them.  Enjoy the wonder of these amazing spiders!
    Also weird was how my current reading coincided with my spider sighting.  Last weekend I was reading a book that George Ella gave me for my birthday, back in May.  She knows I am a huge E. B. White devotee; the book is The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims (Walker and Co., 2011).  I happened to be reading Chapter 14, called Spinning.  It covers the research and information White gathered about spiders.  How surprised I was to be researching spiders at the same time.  He had the New York Public Library and his barn, while I have the internet and the woods.  We would both thank the human beings who figure out all this stuff about what is in the world.
     By the way, the book is interesting, but it suffers from one unavoidable drawback: the writing is not at all E. B. White's.

      The news on the Appalachia, Bluebird, Creek book is good -- George Ella has written words now and has made a draft of the layout.  It is as if still another of her ideas is sown and nourished and then brings forth, like a miraculous plant.  In this case, things have been enriching themselves for at least a year.  The last line now reads "by Zucchini and Zinnias."  This development encouraged me to find straight away some zucchini and zinnias to photograph -- no time to waste since it is already the middle of August.  So, with thanks to Sandy for growing zucchinis and to those friends with zinnias, here are some possible photos for future use:

almost the last two zucchinis in Sandy's garden

There were several watermelons as well hiding in her lush garden.

She also had these zinnias.

These zinnias surround Marjorie and George's mailbox.

This is the road all of us around here use, curvy though it may be.

  These photos are not the final say, but, as always, I enjoy sharing the process of the path-- equally curvy as this road -- which is used to reach a final expression in literature or art.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

spiders, cousins and CNN

post #98
     First the spiders!  Four days ago I discovered a web across our path to the woods.  Waist high.  I stopped walking.  Just in time to do no damage and to take a look.  I was impressed.  And fascinated.  Became amazed.  Sat on the ground to look some more.  Took out my only camera on hand, a Panasonic Lumix point and shoot that can be used in water.  I decided to see what it could do with a web.  I was guessing here, and let it use the flash.  Here are two of those photos: 

This is not what I could see with my eye.  What can I say, the digital part of the camera helped me be aware.  There was more here than I realized. I could of course see the spider and the whatever it is with her.

  There may not be gold medals for what spiders do for their dinner, but doesn't this hard work at least look just like the Olympic stadium?  Again, the flash is doing its magic.

        The load that seems to be attached to the spider appears to be her bug "fridge" -- two days later, after a heavy rain and my husband's not knowing where this web was and walking through it by mistake, the spider seemed to be still carrying the same load.  ANY EXPLANATIONS BY ANYONE WOULD BE MOST WELCOME.  (Note: the next post has an identification for this spider and her shape.)

        So, I made these next two photos toward dusk, the first with my new-ish 16-35m 1:28 lens.  However, it wasn't really late enough yet for the wind to have died down enough, so I returned a bit later, for the second photo, with my 70-300.  (I then tried photos  with a macro lens but the air became too volatile with the lens and me being that close to the web.  Wobbles galore.)  Note: I could NOT see the greater web myself when I took the second  photo.  It was almost as if it weren't there except through the lens. I just knew where the spider and her load were located and the mended splotches.

      On the way back to the house, I took a flower photo since the macro lens was still on the camera.  How could I not do it.  My confession would be that I didn't use a tripod, which would probably have made the petals look even sharper.  This is from our Rose of Sharon shrub.

      There is more to tell about spiders, but I will save it for next week.  For now, I want to add that one of the unexpected paths my life has taken was this artist one, in my fifties.  Such work never occurred to me earlier.  I have always claimed that two cousins of mine were the only artists I knew in the family, and now they also are taking their art more seriously.  Claudia, who retired as a newspaper journalist, has begun a blog where she writes about such a journey.  I enjoy her writing -- and her humor -- so I wanted to share the link to her blog  (The Insecure Artist) and to their joint website (  I am proud of and happy for us all.

     The CNN in the title for this post refers to an article today about photography that is already generating lots of discussion.  Here is the link.  Its title is "Art Photography: when 'reality isn't good enough.'"  I am sure to have more to say about this topic in the future. For real!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Art doesn't happen in a vacuum

post #97
      While I wait to hear about the visual X, Y and/or Zs seen in your life (email me, please, at, I have some catching-up bits of news to share.  I feel strongly that it is hard to be creative in a vacuum.  In addition to feedback from viewers and readers, artists and writers gain and give support to each other.  This seems particularly true for the statewide Kentucky arts community.  Their good news is also mine.
  • Photojournalist John Flavell, who has been answering my photo questions with patience for all of my fifteen years as a photographer, begins teaching journalism full-time at Morehead State University this month, while continuing his freelance photography work.  I have shared some of his photos on this blog, like here and also here.  Hello, lucky students!
  • George Ella Lyon, prolific hard worker that she is, had her most recent young adult novel, Holding on to Zoe, (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux) reviewed in a feature story July 29 in the Lexington Herald-Leader.  (See also her press release on her website.)  Even though George Ella and I are in the same monthly writing group, I had only read early parts of the book -- until last week when I got to hold on to my own copy and read its compelling words and heard its clear voice!  And here is a blog post correction added midweek:  George Ella's other recent release is a poetry collection from LSU (Louisiana State University Press) titled She Let Herself Go.  This book has been in the works for what feels like a long time, but now LSU let go of it!  (George Ella's picture book released last fall is Which Side Are You On?  The Story of a Song, illustrated by Christopher Cardinale (Cinco Puntos Press), a lively, unique (of course) story, and another gift to us all.)
  • Another prolific and hardworking writer is Kentucky icon Wendell Berry whose birthday today was noted by Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac online:
        ....[He's] the man who said, "Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire." That's writer Wendell Berry, born in Henry County, Kentucky (1934), the son of a lawyer and tobacco farmer. His ancestors on both sides farmed the county for five generations. After going off to college and teaching creative writing in the Bronx for a couple of years, Berry joined that lineage, purchasing a 125-acre homestead near the birthplace of his parents, where he still farms and writes poetry, novels, and essays. From his outpost, Berry tackles the intersection of civic life and the natural world, writing that "essential wisdom accumulates in the community much as fertility builds in the land."
        ....Berry wrote: "The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it."
        And: "Every day do something that won't compute [...] Give your approval to all you cannot understand [...] Ask the questions which have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years [...] Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts [...] Practice resurrection.

         Wendell encouraged many of us to write, photograph, and speak out about the terribly destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.  He is a visionary.  I love his wonderful sense of humor as well and his kindness.  Each part of him makes for one generous soul.  

         Last, an upcoming arts opportunity that interests me, called NEW COUNTRY:

    •      The Claypool-Young Art Gallery at Morehead State University is seeking submissions of artwork for an exhibition titled New Country: Ruralism in Contemporary Art  to be on display from October 24 – November 20, 2012. 
    •       New Country: Ruralism in Contemporary Art is an exhibition featuring works of all media that reference and/or are inspired by current or historical ideas of rural life and the pastoral in American culture.  Artworks depicting real, imagined and symbolic images of the countryside have provided romantic, realistic, and critical views of rural culture throughout America’s art history.  Artists interested in submitting work for consideration are encouraged to creatively interpret issues or imagery related to rural life.
    •       August 17, 2012 is the postmark deadline to apply for the exhibition, which has no entry fee to submit.  All artists, age 18 and older, are eligible to enter New Country.  All media and styles will be considered.  No reproductions will be accepted.  All works must have been completed since 2007 and not previously shown in the Claypool-Young Art Gallery.   (Note: For additional information, find it here on the MSU website.)

    Surely this is enough info for one afternoon.  I want to end by posting a new photo of what our family calls the big waterfalls. I particularly like the leaf shadows on the rocks.  The light down in there can be such a problem, photographically speaking. As much as I would like to claim it, this photo was made by my son-in-law.  Bravo!