Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Used to do it on the Feast of the Epiphany.
5. Do you like eggnog?
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
7. Hardest person to buy for?
8. Easiest person to buy for?
9. Do You have a nativity scene?
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Sunday, December 20, 2009
What a long, strange trip it's been. Ohio, New York, Narnia, and the Land of Oz. Haven't been blogging due to life being so darn adventurous lately, but in a real good way! Sure have missed everybody meanwhile, and I look forward to being around more ... it'll have to be a New Year's resolution!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Having no clue where the trails were, I wandered into the Nature Center to ask. The ladies behind the counter gave me a map. Someone remarked that this was a long way to travel since I was used to hanging out in the Cuyahoga Valley. I answered that I’d come up here before to go to the Holden Arboretum, and Narnia which you could get to from around here.
The mention of Narnia brought an “always be good-humored towards Metropark guests” laugh which was sunny, bright, and cheerful along with being skeptical. I was content with not trying to convince anyone. To their minds I was probably one of “those eccentric artist people” with maybe a touch of the proverbial absent-minded professor thrown in. Carrying a camera with a long dangling broken strap didn't help.
The trail worked out very nicely.
Driving home, the entrance to Narnia was open and empty. Two minutes later, a couple pulled up to see if I was having car trouble. They drove off when they saw me peering intently into the woods with a camera.
Mission accomplished, I got in the car again and turned on the radio. By coincidence, after changing the station several times, a song inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came on called “Remembering You” by Steven Curtis Chapman.
And of course, I love the fact that it’s autumn in Narnia, because that heralds winter! Bring on the Snow!! Okay, let’s enjoy the autumn leaves first … But as soon as the last leaf’s fallen … Let it SNOW !!!
The Queen of Narnia has spoken …
For anyone new to this blog, here’s a link to an earlier entry that may help explain things:
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
On entering the store, I heard far-off clinking metallic sounds. I made a manager aware of my presence and mission. Off we walked towards the metallic sounds. Surprise! A couple of employees were dismantling the craft show tent. “Hold it right there,” the manager said, “You can’t take this home free for yourselves. We’ve got a paying customer.”
The tent went into a box with no cover and no set of instructions. At least I was able to carry it to the car myself. I’m small-built, so if I hadn’t have been able to lift it, this saga would have ended right there.
This summer I applied for the Rocky River Fall Arts Festival. Kinda nervous, I called a couple friends to ask if I could borrow their backyard and could they help me practice setting up the tent? I brought them a cherry strudel for their trouble. But between the three of us, there was no earthly way we could stand the crazy contraption up!
The big day arrived. I showed up and explained my predicament. Someone suggested I could live without a tent since it was a nice day. Only, the mayor hosting the arts festival would not like that.
And so it took SEVEN PEOPLE working AN ENTIRE HOUR to help set up the craft show tent! Come to find out, these Good Samaritans included at least one financial tycoon of Northeast Ohio and several high-ranking officials in the local city government! I asked the most helpful one who he was so I could thank him properly, but he preferred to remain anonymous. In fact, nobody gave me their names. Anyway, I am SO IMMENSELY GRATEFUL to everyone who helped me at the first annual Rocky River Fall Arts Festival. Thank you! You know who you are!
Later on, my friends from the backyard came to help me take down the tent … which of course was no problem at all.
As for the fate of the tent, I’m planning to drop it off at the Goodwill store. The good news is, at least it served its purpose on the day I really needed it!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
In the photo above, a Wood Nymph butterfly focuses intently on a delicious meal of autumn aster. Picture taken in October of 2005 at the Holden Arboretum in Northeast Ohio.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Two of my photos are currently on display at the Market Street Art Center in Lockport, New York as part of the annual Members Exhibition. The show runs from September 5th - October 4th. The reception will be held this Saturday, September 12th from 5 pm to 8 pm. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend because I have a different event going on that day, the Butterfly Festival on Kelleys Island. That will be a whole 'nother adventure, and is always a good time.
Here's a link to the Market Street Art Center current show information:
The first photo, Lockport Cave Raceway, shows the entrance to one of Lockport's best-kept secrets when it comes to underground caves beneath the city streets. Tours are now held there.
Here's a link for more information on the Lockport Cave and its Underground Boat Ride:
Another one of my photos, Skeleton Barn, is also on display: A dark wooden frame framed itself by the bright glow of autumn woods in the Hocking Hills of Ohio.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Stirred by a wind coming down from the mountain and bathed in the last rays of quiet sunset majesty, a horse lifts its head. Soon the sheltering fences will find themselves enclosed within the folds of night that will turn even the blue ridge to a sleeping black. The horse will remain awake, to graze, and to dream of freedom.
This photo was taken two weeks ago on a quick trip to a Bed & Breakfast in Virginia, and to my mind made the whole journey worthwhile all by itself.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Since I had stayed there before, the innkeeper knew me and suggested, “Why don’t you call up the Kelleys Island Historical Association? They’re having an art show. All you have to do is come set up a card table.” A link to the Kelleys Island Historical Association appears below:
Having absolutely no experience, I happily agreed. Long story short, I sold a decent amount of photos featuring Kelleys Island landscape and nature scenes last year. The most touching moment came when a six-year-old boy stepped forward and introduced himself to me because he wanted to meet a “real artist” and his mom had just bought him a picture I was selling of the glacial grooves so that he could hang up the famous Kelleys Island rock formation in his bedroom. A link to an earlier post on the glacial groove photo appears below:
The event ended on a humorous note when my card table totally collapsed right at the end of the show. Some guy volunteered that he could fix up my table enough so that the Kelleys Island Historical Association might pay me $10 for it. At that point, I simply donated the table for free and was real happy they didn’t charge me anything to haul it away as junk that was messing up their beautiful island! You might say my art career began with a bang …
Anyway. This spring, the same innkeeper from the House on Huntington Lane gave me another good suggestion: The Lake Erie daisies were in bloom along the North Shore Loop trail. I was so grateful that I gave her a 5x7 copy of the daisy in an 8x10 mat as a gift at this year’s island art show.
Friday, July 17, 2009
What a long, strange trip it’s been … and the journey continues.
So what’ve I been up to?
Driving back and forth like a mad woman between Ohio and New York to participate in not one, but two art shows at the same time. Right now I have two photos on display: “Memories of Ellen” is up at the Market Street Art Center in Lockport, New York. “Intergalactic Scenic Overlook” … the photo that won first place back in February up in New York … is up at the Zanesville Art Center in Zanesville, Ohio.
“Memories of Ellen” is named after a childhood friend who grew up and moved away. In fact, this is the playhouse in her backyard. Link to the Market Street Art Center: http://www.marketstreetartcenter.org/
“Intergalactic Scenic Overlook” … as mentioned in an earlier blog entry … here’s a link to that blog entry:
Worked on a short-term, time-sensitive technical writing contract assignment during the month of June. Long hours, but so rewarding to work with manuals in foreign languages from Spanish to Japanese as well as with excellent supervisors.
Feeling a bit under the weather with one thing or another, just now feeling like my old self again.
Attended a 4th of July picnic at a relative’s house. Most memorable moment was hearing from across a smoke-filled backyard, “Mom, he’s got one of the sparklers in his mouth …” Don’t try this at home. Even though someone else actually did.
So that’s what’s been up with me. I look forward to visiting blogs now that I’m here … Wow I’ve missed you guys! :-)
Question for Readers: So, how have you been spending YOUR summer vacation?
Monday, May 11, 2009
Questions for Readers: What's the most interesting non-bird that you've come across during a bird walk? And what's your most exciting or memorable life bird?
Thursday, May 7, 2009
My first trip down to the Hocking Hills this spring was stormy and gothic as you've seen before. My beloved redbud trees were in bloom, but looking like pale ghostly laughter amid scraggly bare brown branches all around.
I asked the innkeeper to send me an e-mail to let me know when the trees were just starting to turn spring green, so that I could plan to get up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, jump in the car, and make a one-day whirlwind trip back down there. Well, the day I received the e-mail was just gorgeous, but by the time I would have traveled to the Hocking Hills at least half the day would have been gone. Couldn't go the next day due to a business-related phone call. Got rained out the day after that, at least according to the weather radar at my favorite weather website, Weather Underground.
As each precious day went by, I knew it was less and less likely to achieve the perfect combination of redbud trees blooming together with flowering dogwood trees together with just the right amount of spring green new leaves on the hillside trees. But anyways, I started out Saturday morning, and in my previous blog entry you can see plenty of clouds ... or weird Photoshopped skies to mask the clouds ... along with the spring green and red barns.
Then suddenly, out of a blue clear sky, emerged the one safe parking lot to pull off in and take pictures from on Thompson Ridge Road in Laurelville, Ohio. Now Thompson Ridge is a beautiful stretch of a scenic route. Only trouble is it's narrow, winding, steep in places, and doesn't have much of a safe shoulder alongside to stop anywhere even when the beauty gets real tempting.
But the one gravel parking lot was enough. And it provided access to the flowering dogwood against the sky. The redbud blossoms were long gone, had long since leafed out as the flowers camouflaged themselves by turning like chameleons into the common spring green. But the dogwood was a more than worthy consolation prize.
What the Hocking Hills have taught me over the years is that you never go down the same road twice. If you try to go back looking for that perfect spot where everything came together last time for an especially-pleasing photo, what you'll find are memories of an ideal moment in the past alongside of a jarring present that doesn't quite compare because it's not the same. So the alternatives are to travel different roads, or travel familiar roads as if they're new.
Because life can still hold wondrous surprises and God-given gifts if you remain open for them. Like in Forrest Gump's world, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get ... and unexpected hoped-for events can seem to come "out of the blue clear sky." Fascinatingly enough, while driving this past Saturday through the Hocking Hills, I heard a radio advertisement with a local actor pretending to be Forrest Gump. I like to think this fits a theme in my life, as is also apparent from this earlier blog entry:
Anyways, I went out hoping for redbud, came up instead with dogwood, and was not disappointed.
Question for Readers: Have you ever embarked on a quest looking for one thing, and found something else, a surprise maybe, just as good or even better?
Monday, May 4, 2009
This particular hill at Ratcliffburg in Vinton County always reminds me of a gumdrop.
A grandeur of sky hovers over the hills of Vinton County, Ohio. The sky has been dramatized in Photoshop so I can better communicate how looking at the clouds made me feel.
I call this guy “Big Red.” Almost looks like a face with one eye patched, a loose nose, and a wide gaping mouth. Photo taken on Big Pine Road at Laurelville.
A quilt barn with matching wooly quilt sheep. The evergreen design on the side of the barn lets you know you’ve arrived at the Weaver Christmas Tree Farm. Photo taken at Creola in Vinton County.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
This photo is called “Haunting Stormy Ohio Day.” It depicts intensely-changeable weather conditions on a back road in Vinton County, Ohio. All day long scattered rain storms would alternate with small bursts of sunshine. No Photoshop was used on this image. I know it's very dark, but I wanted to keep it as is to preserve the mood.
This photo is called “Spring Gothic.” In it, a majestic stand of trees loom in an eerie stormy light at Lake Hope State Park in Vinton County, Ohio.
This photo is called “There is Beauty in a Dogwood Bush.” When skies are grey, trees are spooky, and that roof over your head doesn’t look entirely comforting, you can still count on the dogwood bush to provide beauty. So remember, when life hands you a dogwood bush, take a picture of it. Okay, so the dogwood bush is pretty spooky too. But in a good way, I think.
To end on a small note of hopeful color, at least the “Ghostly Pink Redbud” trees were in bloom!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Every week you can choose a group to go with based on which direction they’re going. Today I chose the group going South on the tracks. You literally have to walk on the train tracks to cross a rocky stream ten feet below. If a train came, you’d have to jump off the train tracks to avoid being hit. This thought came to me while I was searching for Red-headed Woodpeckers one night after work. I was halfway over the water in the middle of the tracks and suddenly realized I had no idea what the train schedule was. So now my philosophy is that there’s safety in numbers.
Aha! Waterfowl! This being a bird walk, here’s the obligatory bird photo. Two Canada Geese, each with a watery mirror image.
Friday, April 17, 2009
"Endurance is nobler than strength and patience than beauty." -- John Ruskin
Having lasted through the winter atop this rugged peak of the Grayson Highlands, this blueberry bush will grow fruit again come summer. Photo taken near Mt. Rogers in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in May of 2007.
In fact, this image comes from the same adventure-laden day filled with rascally wild horses and eccentric married couples with dogs as described in an earlier blog entry.
Yet there's a different mood here. Of climbing. Of overcoming. Of getting near the top and still not quite seeing hoped-for results just yet, and of wondering. What exactly would the blueberry bush look like all decked out in its finery of leaf and fruit? What would the taste of these wild berries be? Would it be possible to take some back down to the more comfortable life of home, to make jam and pie? Has the climb been worth it, for a glimpse of bare branches? Do they in fact hold a beauty and message of their own?
And would there be any wild horses on the return trip hoping for a handout?
Does your life sometimes feel like this?
Monday, April 6, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Remind me to think twice before attending an acrylic abstract painting workshop when I'm feeling under the weather. My first painting to my mind ended up looking like lavender almost-floral wallpaper with a dash of blackberry jam thrown in!
Okay, so it was totally exciting when a checklist of art supplies came in the mail beforehand listing everything I’d need from canvas to paint tubes to some weird substance called “gesso” to a spray bottle to paint brushes to pallet to pallet knives to rags. The glistening white canvas sparkled with creative freedom in all its glorious possibilities …
Then came the big day, this past Saturday. The instructor was a personable professional artist named Mel Grunau who assured us that we could paint however we liked, that there was no right or wrong. Well, that was before he saw me in action, creating what passed in my opinion for attempted art … as opposed to actual, real art.
Anyways, Mr. Grunau gave a demonstration of laying down colors and water on canvas. What fascinated me was that you didn’t even need a brush to start painting. As long as paint hit the white target somehow or other, it was all good. So I carefully picked out my three favorite colors of Brilliant Purple, Chromium Oxide Green, and Cobalt Blue, and was all set to make a masterpiece!
Meanwhile, there were several other acrylic abstract students at the workshop, all female. Most had previous painting experience. One shy soul coyly claimed that this was her first time, but once she got going, I was skeptical. Either she had beginner’s luck or massive raw talent, but this particular lady in my estimation already looked to be professional enough to exhibit and win awards right now. Maybe she had drawn or painted in other mediums like oil or watercolor and meant that she was only new to acrylic paints. Anyways …
Here’s how I wound up being different from the other workshop attendees:
- Everyone else used paint brushes. I used torn up pieces of cardboard with a flat edge. Apparently, everyone else was afraid of getting their hands dirty. Me, I was afraid of getting my brushes dirty. My hands were covered in paint to the point that I might have almost been doing finger painting.
- Everyone else felt the need to put recognizable representational objects or at least easily-guessable symbols into their work, such as flowers in a vase, a clearly-defined beach horizon, or a dreamy image showing what some called koi fish and I called red parrots. Me, I was happy to stick with colors I liked and primitive hints of geometric shapes.
Questions for Readers: Have you ever attended a workshop, art or otherwise, and found yourself different somehow from everybody else there? How did this affect your learning? Or on the other hand, have you ever attended a workshop, fit right in, and taken to learning the skill as easily as a duck to water? Do you enjoy hobbies best in formal groups, with friends or family, or on your own?