Posts Tagged ‘shadows’

Snowstorm – Springtime in the Rockies

March 23, 2016

Wind carving

Fourteen inches of snow fell today in Cheyenne.  The wind was blowing 30 miles an hour.  The wind carves at its own desire.

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Where’s the gold dome?

February 25, 2016
Blue Capitol

Blue Capitol

 

Things constantly change, even when they stay the same.

My original intent was to get a shot of our Capitol building under reconstruction, but I got distracted by the sky. Again.  Our state is going to spend $300 million fixing up this wonderful building, beginning now.  The whole place is surrounded by chain link fence, and scaffolding is gracing a large area of the walls.  It’s a much needed renovation, as the old building is tired and in need of modernization.

The downside to this project is that we live two blocks away, and our whole neighborhood will be consumed with construction for the next two years.  After it’s all done, however, it ought to make a nice neighborhood like ours even better.

Here’s what I find so interesting about this picture.  A few weeks ago, I took a shot of the Capitol on a cold, snowy morning. The dome shone like it was lit up, the gold glistening even in the gray morning light.  Tonight, at sunset, the same dome can hardly be differentiated from the sky.  And the sky is magnificent.

I continue to be amazed at what I am discovering on this 365 project / journey.  My eyes are different now than they were four months ago. If you’ve been reading along with this, you know that I have mentioned this fact a number of times, and it’s likely that I’ll mention it a number of times more in the future.

Something else I’m discovering is that I believe I have a book in me that needs to come out.  I have been rolling this around in my head for years, but I think I have finally determined the literary method of telling the story.  If I can get that off the ground, I’ll share it with you, dear reader, as I go along.

To the few of you who see this, thanks for reading.  I have to remind myself that I didn’t start this with the hope that I would get thousands of followers, but just so I could get some practice writing and shooting.  Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that you have followed along this far.  May God bless you always!

February 16, 2016
Empty

Empty

Ever looked at a playground at night?

I never really paid attention to one until tonight. Every Tuesday we have a meeting of a club I have belonged to for 7 years.  This is a club that is 114 years old and has existed in its current format since the beginning.

We hold our meetings in a building in a park, and next to the buildings is a playground.  As a child, my idea of a playground wasn’t much more than monkey bars on asphalt. Today that just wouldn’t do, despite the sort of romantic notions we hold over the things of the past.  Some kid falling from the top of the bars and hitting the deck below would be in serious trouble. Today’s playgrounds are much, much safer, and, frankly, appear to be a lot more fun than those monkeybars.

Tonight as I walked across the parking lot and into the meeting, I saw the silhouette of the playground. Here was this place of immense joy and laughter, and it was empty and dark.  That about sums up how I felt tonight going into, and coming out of, this meeting.

The emptiness and darkness were not for me.  Rather, they are for a some members of the club who are going through unspeakable hardship right now.  Rather than detail things, suffice it to say their conditions are not what anyone in his right mind would choose.

Yet here they are at the meeting, men of whom I have grown very fond over the years.  Knowing of their fear, anxiety and profound sadness, I can’t help but believe they come to the meetings for the friendship and support they know that is theirs.  My intention is to breathe in their troubles and breathe out purified air, cleansed by the goodness of God, so that they can breathe again themselves.  The Buddhists have a word for this practice – tonglen.  These guys need all of it they can get.

I left the meeting with a heavy heart, knowing that in spite of the enjoyment of the meeting, these two were facing trials that should have precluded their enjoyment of the meeting, but did not.

So this melancholy is not from them, but only because I feel the pain that encompasses them now.  May God bless them both.

A dark playground is a lonely place.  Darkness in our lives can be lonely as well.  We can pray that God shows us his everlasting love.

Recovery

February 14, 2016
On the porch

On the porch

Well, Dear Readers, an update on the surgical adventures of yours truly.

The old man’s shoulder is healing well, and I’m getting my range of motion back through torture stretching exercises. The stretches look so simple on the paper the doc handed me, causing me to think “Ha! This is nothing!  Give me a challenge!”  I cry when I do them, they hurt so much.  My shoulder, after the abuse heaped upon it by the surgeon and his tools, screamed in protest each time I lifted it more than perpendicular to the floor.

But now I feel like I am getting somewhere.  I have more mobility than I had, and I only cry a little now.  Whimpering would be a more appropriate term.  I start PT with the real torturers physical therapists on Wednesday, and in no time at all I’ll be back to moving my arms without pain.

A little side effect came from the medication that is really quite bothersome has, however, shown itself.  I was taking some opioids, which were terrific at handling the pain, but gave me  – let me be gentle here – synchronous diaphragmatic flutter.

Hiccups.

These are not your ordinary hiccups which are kind of cute and elicit gentle giggles from people.  No, these are violent and shake my whole upper body, accompanied by stuff coming the wrong way in the esophagus.  It prevents sleep, and causes extraordinary fatigue because of the violent, and constant, movement.  I am having a hard time holding things together, and I’m pretty sure no jury would convict me of a heinous crime arising out of this condition.

My earthly angel, Sherry, searched the internet last night for solutions to this problem and came up with a couple OTC drugs meant to combat the rising of the stuff in my system, which is ultimately due to a hiatal hernia that seems to have been awakened from the narcotics, like Smaug in his lair being awakened by Bilbo.  The result is much the same, with me suffering the indignities of dragon fire in my digestive tract.

The drugs seem to have calmed things down considerably, but not completely, and the  synchronous diaphragmatic fluttering is a real bear with which to deal.

Hence the green plant.  Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day that felt like a day for a bike ride or run. Alas, I was not anywhere close to that activity, so I sat in a chair on our sun porch.  The sun, having made it’s way across the southern sky to reach near it’s western edge, was pouring through the windows and the translucence of the plant leaves.  The shadows showing from the leaves behind, casting themselves in silhouettes through the leaves in front, gave an extra dimension to the leaves.  It was a nice distraction from the events described above.

Thanks, Dear Readers, for sticking with me on this.  I enjoy the writing and shooting immensely, and it helps me get through the stickiness of this little bit of recovery.

Thoughts on Sewing

February 4, 2016
Stitched together

Stitched together

Let me clear up any possible misconception right now.  Yes, this is a sewing machine.  No, I couldn’t use it to save my life. This is Sherry’s sewing machine. She acquired this before we were married, and we have been married 33 years.  She has had it longer than she has had me.

Sherry has a sewing room where we keep our ironing board and our iron.  Each morning I go in there to iron something to wear to work, a task I have been doing for a long time.  This morning I noticed the shadows as they cast themselves across the machine.  There is a south facing window in the room, and at 7:30 a.m. the sun is shining through as it starts its arc low across the southern horizon.  Today the blinds were just right to make me take notice of the stripes across the face of this piece of equipment.

Sewing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  More accurately, it’s been a part of the women in my life for as long as I can remember.  My mother was a wonderful seamstress, and she spent many hours running material through her Singer.  That always seemed to be the best time to talk to her – when she was busy with her hands and I was watching the TV in the same room.  Deep stuff, like girls, school, girls, my future, and girls.  She always understood, never tried to tell me what to do, and made me believe she really listened to me, because she did.

For my senior high school picture, my mom made adenim leisure suit for me.  I can see you cringing – and laughing –  right now, but in 1975 it was cutting edge.  I don’t know where that picture is, but I can see, and feel, that suit right now.

My sister-in-law Sharon is a legendary seamstress.  She made clothes for her two girls while they were growing up, and not just simple things, either.  She taught her skills to her daughters, Carole and Jayne, who picked up the craft and make clothes for themselves, their children and grandchildren.

Sherry would sew, then not, then sew, then not, then sew throughout our married life.  Maybe ten years ago, she got an interest in quilting and went down that road.  We both know of women – I don’t know any man quilters – who have gone into the quilting thing like men go into the tool/hunting/biking thing.  They have yards and yards of fabric filling up cabinets and closets in their homes, and they churn out quilts by the dozens, or so it seems.

Sherry has made quite a few quilts, but our house isn’t littered with them.  She gives them away.  She is working on two quilts for grandchildren right now, and this sewing machine is seeing a lot of use.

Which brings me to the thoughts I had when I was ironing.  Yesterday I wrote about nails holding things together for a long time.  Quilts, while not hard and stout like nails, hold things together as well, but in a much more complex manner.

When Sherry makes a quilt, she spends hours and hours cutting out little pieces of fabric, putting them into some sense of order, ironing them and then sewing them together.  I’ve seen her stay up quite late working on her quilts, not because of a deadline to finish them, but because she just loses track of time.

Her quilts are a lot like her life and our family.  She has spent years selecting the fabric of our lives, making sure that what we have is strong and durable, and it can withstand multiple cycles of clean/dirty/clean.  She takes these disparate pieces of fabric that is us and our girls, and irons them, taking out the wrinkles that distract from the beauty of the fabric.  Then she takes her scissors and cuts off the rough edges.  She sews it all together, making this batch of fabric – us – come together as one beautiful piece of art.  That finished product is a marvel to behold.  And while there are imperfections, that’s OK, because this life quilt was built out of love.

I love seeing this sewing machine.  I love what it represents to me, that connection to the strong women in my family.  I love that it is a tool that allows Sherry to make her useful art and share it with others.  I love the fact that she has used this same sewing machine for so long, never looking to acquire a new one simply because it was new.  And I love the stripes across it, giving it a depth and texture that I’ve never witnessed before.

And all that from ironing a pair of pants.

 

The Proper Order

January 28, 2016

 

Shadow ladders

Shadow ladders

I visited a friend in the hospital today.  It was a good visit, because she was there for some serious stuff.  She looked good, even though she had just undergone life-altering surgery that was anything but planned.  When I left her room, I made my way to the elevators and, while waiting, looked out the window to see this street stretch off into the horizon.   As the sun was setting, the cross streets created an open corridor for the last rays of the day’s light to illuminate their paths, while the homes and trees in the blocks in between filled the space with shadows.

untitled shoot-1010

Abandoned and forgotten

 

I left the hospital and walked down the street I had just seen.  A block away from the hospital is a group of homes that no longer have occupants.  As is their wont, hospitals like to acquire property because they grow like nothing else. These homes were in the way, and the owners – a group of investors – wanted to knock them down and sell the land to the hospital.  The homes were considered by some to be historic, and therefore a hue and cry went up up prevent their destruction.  Now they sit empty, and the owners will give them away for the taking, and pay $10,000 towards the moving cost.  In the meantime, the environment is taking its toll. The once beautiful and distinct homes, filled with unique character, are going back to the land.  The paint peels, the wood rots, and soon enough they will be beyond repair and will come down on their own.

untitled shoot-1012

Two dimensions

 

While the paint comes off the wood, the trees show their outlines against the chimney, perhaps in a scene from the future as the only thing left will be the shadows of what once was.  Even brick and mortar give themselves up to the wind, the rain and the cold.  It won’t be long before the shadows will migrate east as their screen disappears.

Light and water

Light and water

And then the snow, the cold, forbidding snow, loses its grip on the roofs and sidewalks as the sun warms it and turns it, drop by drop, into the water that will eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico.  Today it came down like diamonds falling from the sky.  By Monday, the snow will be back and winter will slap us once again.

My trip to the hospital was quite an adventure.  My friend is resting, recuperating, and we pray for her.  The shadows will come and go again, and the homes will make their way to the land. This is life.  This is the proper order of things.

Shadows

December 26, 2015
In the bleak midwinter

In the bleak midwinter

Winter light changes everything.

As the sun makes its way across the sky during December, we never really get that high-noon look of stark light and flat landscapes.  Winter has the advantage of light being at angles to everything, all day long.

I took a photography class with Dan Ballard a couple years ago. He’s an amazing photographer, and his workshop elevated my photography skills exponentially.

One thing I learned from Dan was the importance of light and perspective.  Our workshop took place in Jackson, Wyoming in June.  The light in June is the exact opposite of the light in December.  Long days, a high, unforgiving sun that washes out everything.

One of the other students in our class put his camera away after breakfast and didn’t get it out again until after dinner.  He wouldn’t shoot at all during the day, as he didn’t like the light at all.  Photography is, like painting, all about light.

I don’t subscribe to the theory of no shooting in the middle of the day, as I think there are plenty of things to shoot even at mid day.  Granted, mid day comes earlier in December than in June, but the idea is the same.

Shadows become prominent features this time of year.  After a healthy snowfall last night, the land turned predominantly white, save for the shadows.  Watching them move over the course of the day is a real treat, moving left to right as I look out the front of my house.

The hedges which separate our home from the one next to us are the last to lose their leaves in the fall.  By December, they are just sticks coming out of the ground.  Several years ago, they were the haven for a flock of chickadees that would feed at our neighbors across the street, as they had an industrial sized bird feeder.  They would get their fill, then high-tail it across the street to our bushes and hide out.  It was quite the sight watching a hundred small birds fly as if by command from their yard to ours.

Today the light turned the sticks to shadow-casters.  Dark is the absence of light, and the light disappeared behind the sticks, giving depth and texture to the otherwise monochrome surface of the snow.

Winter light really does change things.


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