Sunday, October 26, 2014

posts from the past, color, and politics

post #214
       I have said that this month I would do a kind of review of this blog, now that I am starting a fifth year of weekly posts.  I began this blog thinking I would do just a few photos every week, with some commentary, focusing on Appalachia and photography.  However, I have found that by now I usually incorporate a dozen or more photos, and I have covered quite a few topics.  
       For the first year (October 2010 - October 2011), here are the posts that garned the most attention:
  • the most viewed was "Tobacco as art, part 1," followed by "Tobacco as art, part 2,"  in September 2011.  I think they must come up when someone researches tobacco.   I explain in them -- and again now -- that I am totally appalled at the terrible health damage tobacco does, yet it has long been an honorable way of earning a living where I live.  Need I add that it is also very compelling as art.
  • I mostly do Appalachian moments, but I also have reasons to travel.  For example, in July 2011 I went to visit my British stepmother. The resulting two posts from England were the second most viewed posts of my first year: here is the first one and the second one.  Not everyone has the chance to travel, so it's a pleasure for me to  provide a mini-look at other countries and other places in the USA.
  • On 4/28/11 I did an extra, mid-week post which generated a lot of interest, about an effort and exhibit encouraging photos that are re-imaging Appalachia.
  • Then there are the two posts showing some neighbors making sorghum molasses.  How cool is that!  Here are both links:  here and here
      Currently, this is what shows up here this past week.  I have often photographed this field, but this time I was struck by the fact it looks to me as if the colors from the trees have spilled over to the field and washed down the hillside.  I made photos from several vantage points, and I am sharing three of them today.

SO, now, one last extra that might not be of interest to everyone, but it is something I care about:

          For the true democracy obsessed readers of this blog, I am including my humble effort to speak out during this election season -- a letter to the editor.  It will be appearing in two local newspapers this Tuesday, a week before our national midterm elections.  Kentucky has a US Senate contest.  As usual, a lot rests on elections, and I continue to believe we all need to vote.  Also, I have many readers/viewers in other countries besides my own, and I thought this particular effort of a concerned citizen might be of interest.  

 To the editor:
         I’m a Kentucky voter Senator Mitch McConnell claims to speak for, but he doesn’t listen to a word I have to say.  Instead he acts like his mind is made up and he just wants us – all of us in Kentucky – to be happy if he can replace Harry Reid [US Senate Majority Leader.]  Harry Reid may or may not need replacing, but the real issue is why hasn’t there been some actual legislation, say, to help coal miners who face an increasing rise in black lung disease?  (Folks, this is 2014.  Why aren’t we moving forward on this situation instead of backwards?) 
        In fact, why is the loss of coal jobs being blamed on Obama since it started over 30 years ago?  And Mitch has been in the US Senate all that time!
       When we’ve needed action on these and many other important issues, we only got gridlock.  Then, if you remember, there was the incredibly wasteful and inexcusable shutting down of the US government. For weeks. I hold the Republicans responsible for that.  In ignoring or forgetting about such facts by the next election, we put our nation’s health in jeopardy.
        As a woman and a citizen who always votes, I am proud that this year Alison Grimes is running such a strong campaign for the US Senate seat.  She is working hard, speaking powerfully, and raising lots of money.  Yes, she is young (35), but that is the idea – it‘s called new blood, new energy!  There’s no question about her passion for Kentucky and her future capacity for leadership.  Alison  has earned my vote.
        Democracy is the gift we live with, but it requires an informed and participating citizenry.  This means thinking for ourselves – and voting.  Please join me in ignoring all the big money efforts to make us act on our fears instead of on our hopes.     Ann

Sunday, October 19, 2014

rainbows, monarch follow-up, color and stories

post #213
        Two weeks ago, a lovely brief rainbow happened in our county.  I saw it by chance, from our house which is in a hollow (Appalachian speak for the space that's between two hills.)  I just had time to take a few quick snapshots.  Soon after that, I drove to the local fire department fish fry fundraising auction, and, again by chance, had a great conversation with Cynthia McAuley.  She grew up here but lives now with her family in Lexington.  She asked me if I had seen the rainbow!  It turns out she had taken a great photo of it on her cell phone.  So, here are two photos of the same rainbow (sort of) AND another guest artist on my blog!  Thank you, Cynthia, for coming over to talk with me and for being willing to share your amazing photo.  (Notice the double rainbow visible in Cynthia's image.)
from where I was

from where Cynthia was

       Speaking of color, while spending some time last week sitting out in the chill trying to sell my art wares, I met Rosemary Fannin.  She made this log cabin design quilt. We had tables near each other, and I really enjoyed getting to know her. I love the colors she uses.  She made the second quilt using a totally different color scheme.  I can't do what she does, but I sure can appreciate the hard work required. Persistence is a good trait for us artists to cultivate!

just a corner of another of her quilts

These colors are more the tool I need as a photographer. I love Sharpies.  I use them to sign books or write info on the back of photos I give to, say, someone who let me take his or her photo.  This photo was taken in the University of Kentucky Art Store, where I buy most of the paper I use for my photo note cards.  I couldn't resist making this photo.  All those Sharpies!  All that color!!

      Now to touch on last week's post about Monarch butterflies.  I had a lot of viewers!  Thank you all for sharing my enthusiasm.  I just heard that two young grandchildren I love, ages 5 and 3, were totally taken by the ten minute video where the Monarch caterpillar disappears into its own hanging green bag.  
     Also, I asked Rachel how she managed to get a sticker label onto the monarch's wing.  She sent me the instructions from    I highly recommend this site for those interested in knowing more about these treasured creatures.  Here is a quote from the site that explains clearly about the monarch migration patterns: 

       In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They travel much farther than all other tropical butterflies, up to three thousand miles. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year. Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales, individuals only make the round-trip once. It is their children's grandchildren that return south the following fall.
      I am spending this weekend working on my note cards (more on why next week), so I want to include one more photo.  It shows how I have temporarily taken over the kitchen counter as I inventory how many copies I have of some of the prints I use to assemble my cards.  I don't have time to make a totally professional shot, but at least this gives a flavor of some of my work. I have posted many of them on this blog over the past four years.
       I feel as if these images are my friends. They each have a story.  Actually, we all have stories and tell them in many ways, gifts we can give each other throughout our lives.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guest photographers, milkweed and monarchs!

post #212
       I am so looking forward to sharing these photos today. The first group is from Rachel Carpenter who has a Monarch Station at her home in Indiana.  The second batch is from Lucy Pryor, now living in northeast Kentucky, like I do.  We have each known the other two for a long time, and our stories definitely overlap. Even so, I had no idea about Rachel's work until a week ago, when Lucy forwarded me these photos by email.  Rachel wrote "I collect caterpillars and raise them on milkweed and then once the butterflies hatch I tag them with tags I get from Monarch Watch."
        Esssentially, the story goes from left photo to right photo. After the additional written-down information Rachel sent just this morning, to help explain what it is she does, the other larger photos follow  --


from Rachel: The way I do this is that I check the milkweed on our property for caterpillars, or sometimes I even get eggs.  Then I collect them and put them in a wooden box that Johno [R's husband] made.  The front and back are screen and the front is a door.  Then I basically make a "bouquet" of milkweed leaves.  I just use a yogurt carton with water in it.  I change out the leaves every few days for fresh ones.  We have a lot of milkweed in our yard, so that is easy to do.  Then when the caterpillars are satisfied, they climb off the milkweed.  If they weren't in captivity they would crawl away, but since they can't leave they just climb to the top of the box.  They get into that "J" shape, hang there for around 24 hours, then they change into the chrysalis.  Here is a great ten minute video that I found on youtube that shows the transformation:  I have gotten to see that happen a few times.  Then the rest of the photos are just of the chrysalis over the 3 weeks or so that it is a chrysalis.  It gradually darkens and you can begin to see the butterfly developing.  By the time it is ready to emerge the chrysalis is completely clear.

      Thank you, Rachel!!  Here are some of her other photos:

drying off?
Rachel has labeled this monarch for Monarch Watch monitoring.
      In earlier blog posts I have mentioned the work of photographer Betty Hall, in Lexington, KY.  She has a blog (here) that also shows her Monarch Station and her backyard butterfly garden.  She has been interested in the welfare of these beautiful creatures for many, many years.  And her photos are amazing. (note: she sells notecards at Good Foods Coop, in Lexington, KY.)
       My last offering for today are some monarch photos taken with great care and patience by photographer Lucy Pryor.  Thank you, Rachel and Lucy, for being guests here today.  And thank you everyone who has been working so creatively to preserve monarchs in our changing world we are each called to care for. 


Sunday, October 5, 2014

End of summers, many visitors during 15 minutes

post #211, and, I'm proud to say, the start of my fifth year of doing these weekly posts

       I have wanted to share what I saw in a brief period the afternoon of September 17, 2014.  It is part of that aspect of photography that celebrates paying attention.  Seeing.  Noticing the light and the moment.
      First, a photo at the pond, of a weed hanging over from the edge, gently touching water.  To me it looks like it is tiptoeing out, reaching ever farther.
       I then walk back to the house, passing the well and the "End of Summer" plants nearby.  A neighbor gave us these plants many years ago, and they never disappoint. She called them End of Summers, though I know other plants also can go by that name.  
      I stop because I noticed a single butterfly, but I end up filming many of the other visitors as well.  They just keep showing up.  I must have hit some kind of prime time!  Busy, busy!

       I don't want to leave out the grasshopper who's hiding close by.  He looks kind of lost but also very peaceful.  Note: There are so many times when I am seeing stuff with my camera that I wish I had a biology degree. That was certainly true when I made the photos for Counting on the Woods by George Ella Lyon.  I had so much to learn back then, besides how to use a tripod and such. Even a single biology course in high school or college would have helped.  

      So, to finish today, one last insect I saw recently that might not find a proper home on some future blog post.  Location: on our chicken house outside wall.   Name: I have no idea but would love to know, as usual.  The shapes and lines fascinate me.  Enjoy its beauty: