Or, more accurately, sunbathe. Yes, there is a bunch (squadron? gaggle? flotilla? herd? team?) of small turtles that like to lie out on the banks of Duck Creek on clear days and soak up the sun....
There were actually six out there when I first walked by. By the time I had unlimbered the camera and moved within shootin' range, five skedaddled for the water. When this one noticed me inching even closer, he ran like a, well, turtle, too. I hung around for a while, saw one or two li'l heads poke up out of the water, but they are a shy bunch and preferred being submerged to attaining photographic immortality.
Makes me wish I had a longer lens for the camera.
Or a turtle suit, so I could sneak up on 'em undetected....
...Where I Live Now. In fact, a pair of stone lions and two stone pillars flanking the entrance to a shopping center full of Chinese stores -- and one Japanese restaurant -- might be darn near the last things I would have imagined I'd see here.
Let it be said I wouldn't be surprised to see these Where I Grew Up. Yes, when I was a mere yoot, the population was made up primarily of Anglos and Latinos. But sometime in the 1970s the Asians began to arrive. Today, my home town is largely Chinese, with huge conclaves of Koreans, Vietnamese, Japanese and Heaven-knows-who-else filling the surrounding towns. You can drive many blocks without seeing shop signs in English.
But I'm not there anymore. And I hope I'm not going back.
As a result, I consider it my duty as a Good Citizen, whose heart is full of concern that all should enjoy safe and happy holidays, to pass along a worthwhile instructional video to help ease any potential stress should the worst happen to you.
I suppose I should warn the squeamish to use the proverbial Viewer Discretion, but hey, I made it through a showing of the immortal classic educational film, "Blood on the Highway," when I took Driver's Ed in high school (every movie I've seen since was downright tame), so you can watch this, too....
No actual zombies were injured in the preparation of this video...I don't think.
...for this Christmas-that-isn't Christmas (here, anyway), my favorite Christmas video!
PARENTHETICAL THERE-ARE-PLENTY-OF-CHRISTMAS-TUNES-IN-THE-SEA (whaaaa?) NOTE: This is not my favorite Christmas song. That would be Mel Torme's "Christmas Song," than which there are none better. But this is the best Christmas song video I've seen.
Yeah, this is another one of my "Christmas Traditions." Since in recent years I haven't been able to run around dropping off pressies to those I care about, I take a little consolation in watching the Big Fat Dude do his thing.
Since it's that time of year, it is also time to do what I've done every Christmas for several years, which is to promote some of my favorite Christmas-related music and, well, things.
I suppose it's a "tradition" -- sort of -- so one or two among my vast audience of three or four may have seen these before. Go ahead, click on the links again...they won't hurt you! And you might even get a smile or two out of 'em.
PARENTHETICAL "Ho, Ho, Ho" THOUGHT: I'm not exactly in what you would call a "Holiday Mood," but if anything can help chase Da Bloos, it's likely to be found among the next three or four postings. I'm trying, anyway.
It has been a chilly, dark day here, entirely appropriate for finding an old prairie cemetery on my walking route.
That's not something you expect to see amid recently built industrial buildings (many now empty) and on the verge of a busy highway.
The cemetery was established in 1855 by Rev. George Blewett. His daughter, Anne, was the first to be buried there. In time, Rev. Blewett joined her there, as did other members of his family. His son -- grandson? -- was one of the last to be interred there, in 1919. Other families have gravesites within the simple iron fence as well.
Given the size of the fenced-off land, I have to assume many grave markers have vanished over the years. Were they stolen, or were there many wooden crosses and plaques that didn't withstand 90 years of neglect?
I felt transported far away from the busy area Where I Live Now. This is the kind of place one expects to stumble across when driving down a lonely back road, a place to be appreciated without traffic noises and other signs of modern life....
For once, I'm a bit sad that I don't use some tricky photo-manipulation program that would allow me to wipe away the trappings of civilization from the background. Buildings, cars and telephone wires have nothing to do with this place.
By the same token, I wish I had some idea of the stories entombed below the remaining headstones....
I admit I'm not really feeling Christmas this year. I could cite a whole boatload of reasons for that; I don't want to, so just take it as a given.
But a couple of people who have access to my Secret Location haven't forgotten, and they have brightened my spirits considerably.
One sent a couple of wrapped presents which I, with remarkable self-control, have not yet opened. Knowing the person who sent them, there's no doubt in my mind that they are thoughtful, personal and just plain wonderful. The temptation to start rippin' up that wrapping paper is barely tolerable.
The other sent a US Mail box with contents unwrapped. He basically went for the jugular, giving me one of the very few things I've been missing since I left the Former Place....
Sensibly, he didn't try to send the other things I miss, which would have been impossible anyway. In-n-Out Burgers wouldn't have survived the trip; neither would a couple tacos, a burrito and a plate of guacamole and chips from Tito's Tacos.
This dude has me figured out. He knows of my secret jonesing for real coffee -- not the slightly-flavored brown water most people seem to drink Where I Am Now -- and knew about it before I relocated. Either he has become a La Llave pusher and expects me to come crawling back to him, money in hand and begging for more, when this stash runs out, or he wanted to feed the need because he's a good and thoughtful guy.
I'm going with the latter theory.
It's not only the thought that counts. It's the thought behind the gift-giving urge that separates capital-F Friends, those whose mere existence makes your world better, from the rest.
I'm grateful to know both of these people. Their gifts are a happy reminder of how much they mean to me.
...as a rare occurrence occurs in the wee hours of Monday Night and Tuesday morning: The winter solstice coincides with a total eclipse of the Moon for the first time in 456 years. Wiccans everywhere have perked up their ears....
Did some gun-totin', Christmas-hatin' galoot do this? Was Santa going up the chimney with more goodies than he came in with? Did he pour an extra tot of rum into his milk -- you know, the traditional "milk and plate of cookies left out for Santy" bit -- and get too rowdy? Did a rival gang of Santas do a drive-by from their sleigh?
Or did someone forget to plug in the Jolly Fat Dude's compressor?
...that catch my eye in my current black-and-white photographic mood....
PARENTHETICAL I-GUESS-WE-SHOULD-BE-LITERAL NOTE: Yes, you could say the island in the far background is very solid. The water doesn't quite fit the definition of "solid," but is far from fluffy and soft.
New photos coming soon. Some even in color...when I have to.
...I still enjoy messing around with the old, as in changing a photo's effect by taking away the color.
It's not so simple. Picking a shot that survives the bleaching-out treatment is a matter of guesswork, really. Several shots I thought would be ideal candidates didn't make it. Others, some of which seemed to depend on color for their interest, worked out pretty well.
Chrome is tricky. So, to my surprise, is near-transparent red plastic. Light-blue metallic paint makes the transition to pewter-like tones quite well. And the subtle, reflective shapes of this '59 Ford's sheet metal keep their sculptural beauty.
...mainly because I haven't found a thing I wanted to shoot. It happens. And I don't like it.
That said, one of my interests, black & white photography, has been enjoying a bit of a revival in my head. It has always been there; that's where I started, after all. Add to that my recent thoughts about Will Connell -- which led to my godfather C.K. and my father, all of whom could do wonders with a roll of Kodak Panatomic-X.* Stir in seeing photos from a dear friend who is a true artist with a camera and can produce compelling B&W images, and I've been moved to start idly riffling through old images to see which would respond well to having their color bleached out (digitally).
Here's one. I liked it when I shot it in color, as the light was grayed and softened enough by overcast skies to have a nice "feel," but I like it better the way I would have shot it on film.** If I had been shooting film that day.
I'm amazed by the change. As taken, the photo was a bit soft and dreamlike, probably due to the pastel effect on the surrounding greenery and the remains of beige paint on the truck. Now, it has a harder edge, and my eye is drawn more to the destructive effects time, missing parts, and rust have had on the poor old Ford.
Yes, this is more to my liking. Fun to do, as well.
* Yet another archaic reference. Panatomic-X was Kodak's best film ever, as far as I'm concerned. It had a slow ASA/ISO rating, which meant using a tripod/flash in anything but broad daylight, but when properly processed, gave brilliant results. It also had exceedingly fine grain, so enlargements were never a problem. I think they stopped making it many years ago. Creeps.
** Or for that matter, if I had known how to mess with color saturation, hue, contrast and brightness on the computer when I took the original.
From time to time, I have brought a few crusts for the Normal Ducks, Muscovy Ducks/Chernobyl Birds and assorted Unidentified Local Fowl, but these Good Avian Samaritans must have handed out a couple of loaves to the quacking throng. Funny, none of these folks look like St Francis....
There were plenty of satisfied customers after the meal, even if all of them were stuck with the bill....
A little hard to believe that cars were whizzing by 50 feet behind me as I took this photo....
Seventy-five years ago, it was probably in the middle of nowhere, beside a meandering dirt road. Now, it's in suburbia: across the four-lane highway, there's a shopping center; 100 feet to the west, a busy intersection and then an industrial area, and houses -- brick, of course -- on the other three sides.
I think I've exhausted the supply of neat old houses and peaceful country vistas within walking distance. Not a happy thought.
Expect more ducks and any local details I find interesting enough to shoot. We're not talking about ideal choices photographically -- just what I can dredge up. Have to keep taking pictures, you know.
In the meantime, I'll probably dream about this house. As it was. A snug shelter away from all the things that annoy me about built-up "civilization." I'll bet past owners of the place could hear coyotes at night...I'll take that over traffic noise any time.